Questions linger over school bus damage in McDuffie County

Thanks to some help from a neighboring district, school buses in McDuffie County were running again Friday.
Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 12:52 PM EST
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THOMSON, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Thanks to some help from a neighboring district, school buses in McDuffie County were running again Friday, a day after 23 of them were damaged in what officials called a vandalism incident.

We’re working to learn more about how that incident unfolded, but it could take a few days.

The McDuffie County School District said it’s still assessing the damage, and a total won’t be available until after a report is completed. That’s not expected for five business days, the district said Friday.

But we do know a 16-year-old suspect was apprehended by local law enforcement and school resource officers, according to the district.

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 in connection with Thursday’s incident. As far as the previous one, the district told us Friday that any past incidents with the student can’t be disclosed, according to state law.

Thomson graduate James Ingram says this was his reaction to hearing the news.

“Real, real, crazy. Real crazy,” he said.

McDuffie County school buses didn’t run at all Thursday morning, then not all of them ran in the afternoon.

But things were back to normal on Friday after the Columbia County School District loaned McDuffie County 15 buses.

This is something that Ingram is grateful for.

“That’s really nice of them, I guess, to jump in. I mean, I know a lot of people in Columbia County. I go to church in Columbia County. So it’s really helpful for them to come in and help us out and all that,” he said.

Parents also told us they had no issues throughout Friday, and routes operated per usual. Moving forward, the price tag for a county this size is what is worrying those like Ingram.

“I mean, we’re not the richest city in the world. So it’s just, you know, real crazy, and just one kid dealing all that destruction and damage is really crazy as well,” he said.

The district said 23 of its 63 buses were damaged.

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