Teen charged in Thomson bus damage; routes set to resume

Teen charged in Thomson bus damage; routes set to resume
Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 6:49 AM EST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2023 at 3:27 PM EST
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THOMSON, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - McDuffie County school buses didn’t run Thursday morning after a vandal caused widespread damage to the fleet, but the district quickly got back on the road to normalcy.

McDuffie County Superintendent Mychele Rhodes sent an automated call and text to all parents to inform them the buses would not run Thursday morning.

By afternoon, some buses were running for the trip home. Buses 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 16, 20, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29, 33, 35, 36, 38, 39, 44, and 45 were running.

All other students needed to be picked up in the car rider line, the district said.

All regular bus routes will run as scheduled Friday after the Columbia County School District agreed to loan buses from its fleet.

“Each driver will call to inform parents of the newly assigned bus number if affected,” the McDuffie County district said in a statement.

McDuffie County school buses didn’t run Thursday morning after vandalism caused widespread damage to the transportation fleet.

An individual entered the McDuffie County School System’s transportation lot early Thursday and damaged 23 of the 63 total buses in the fleet on Thursday morning, according to the district.

A 16-year-old suspect was apprehended by local law enforcement and school resource officers, the district said. The suspect is a current McDuffie County student who was being served off campus because of a previous incident, the district said.

Criminal charges have been filed, and officials are working to calculate damage estimates for the buses and other school property.

Students who weren’t able to attend school Thursday due to the transportation issue were to get an excused absence.

“We appreciate the patience and understanding of our parents and students as we work to obtain alternate transportation in the coming days,” said the McDuffie County School System.

This left parents having to find a way to get their kids to school.

“I have a busy day every day. Mom of three kids. I take care of my grandparents as well,” said Elizabeth Higdon, parent.

Higdon’s busy day started not with her alarm but with a phone call that made her busy day even busier.

“A nice 6 a.m. wakeup call and so the normal alarm just letting us know that buses would not be running this morning or this afternoon,” she said.

When she found out buses wouldn’t be available, getting her kids to school was a daunting task.

“Three kids, three kids, three different schools. How do you get them there? We loaded them all up this morning and I decided to pick mine up all early from school,” said Higdon

She says incidents like these impact the whole community, not just parents trying to get their kids to school.

“I don’t think it just affects the parents, it affects the kids too. They don’t know what’s going on. All they hear is vandalism, and immediate thought for some of the most probably fear, so just as parents as making sure we comfort our kids and get them back to school safely,” she said.