Eight children, all of them siblings, were treated for possible hypothermia Tuesday after they were found cold, wet and shivering on a Northeast D.C. doorstep.
The oldest told the Good Samaritans who discovered them just before 9 a.m. that they had been kicked off three different Metro buses and were just trying to get to school.
The eight children were all taken to Children's National Medical Center where they were treated for several hours before being released into the care of their mother.
The children, some of them crying, were first noticed by a woman shoveling snow from the walk in front of her house. She looked across the street and saw them all dressed in their school clothes huddled together on a Rhode Island Avenue doorstep.
The youngest was just four years old, and when the woman went to see if she could help, the children told her an incredible story.
Kevin Gadson and Acurah White live directly across the street from where they first saw the children.
"They're scared, they're shivering, they're shaking, they're crying, they're frozen, they can't even move off the porch," said White in an interview Tuesday.
So White and her boyfriend gathered them up and safely took the eight children -- ages 4 to 14 -- across busy Rhode Island Avenue to their home.
"We had to carry them to my house and warm them up, and even when we get them into the house and put blankets on them, they are still crying, shivering," said White. "It's cold."
So White and Gadson called 911.
"I went up to my room," she said, "and got our heaters. I placed the heater right in front of them and they all warmed up in front of the heater. I got them blankets, jackets. They were all soaking wet."
The couple then started asking questions.
"They told me that the G8 bus driver kicked them off the bus and went out of service twice," she said. "So they said they got on three buses. They said they got on the P6 -- they kicked them off. They got on the G8 -- they kicked them off. They got on another G8 and they kicked them off. They said they were going out of service, but I'm like you have little small children on your bus. You cannot do that."
D.C. Fire and EMS first sent engines and an ambulance to help the children -- getting them warm before sending an ambulance bus that took the eight children to the hospital.
"Three of the little girls asked me to go with them because they didn't feel safe, so I went with them," said Gadson.
Gadson says he stayed at the hospital for hours.
"I would have spent the whole day with them just to make sure they were alright," he said. "They got in contact with their mother and now they are home safe.
"The mother gave me a big hug. She didn't know the kids were out here. She thought they were in school, in class."
Metro says it is investigating the children's story and released a statement from Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel. It reads in part: "I can tell you unequivocally that this should not have happened. Our policy it that passengers are to be carried to the end of the route … (the) G8 does *not operate* when we are on a Moderate Snow Plan, as we are now and have been since about 8 a.m."
"I just want to hear what they have to say to that," said Gadson. "I know it's not in their policy to put little kids off the bus. No matter what's going on with the bus, I would want my kid to be on the bus safe."
Stessel also said an immediate notice to all bus operators is going out this afternoon reinforcing the policy -- i.e. even if your bus route gets canceled by Bus Control, you are obligated to carry passengers to the end of the route unless there is an imminent safety hazard.