It took multiple police units and a 45-minute chase to stop a child who went for a joyride in a school bus and whizzed past residents and other vehicles on the road.
The unidentified 11-year-old boy reportedly stole the school bus from the parking lot of the Progress Head Start Center on Progress Road in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and he clearly enjoyed sending police officers on a long chase.
“We got our first call about a juvenile driver at 9:45 a.m., in the area of Airline Highway and Scenic Highway,” said Sgt. L’Jean McKneely Jr., Baton Rouge Police spokesperson, as quoted by The Advocate.
Several police units began following the bus at around 10:45 am and there were other units waiting at different intersections to hold traffic back. For about 11 miles, the boy drove on and went from the parking lot to from Baton Rouge’s Scotlandville section to Central. The boy was laughing away and even showing his middle finger to the cops from behind the wheel of the bus as he passed them.
Not expecting to see a child race past her on a Sunday morning, Joy Gradney caught a bit of the incident on video and said, according to WAFB, “As he got closer and closer and closer, I saw it’s a little boy in there and he was laughing. He was like giggling on the way across Florida as he goes right past me. I’m like I can’t believe it’s a little boy.”
The boy managed to make it through different parts of the city such as Scenic Highway, Airline Highway, and Greenwell Springs Road before finally crashing and coming to a halt in someone’s front yard. The bus rammed into a tree and broke a gas line before stopping right in front of the home of Libby Smith on 1700 Greenwell Springs Road.
Libby, surprised to see that it was a child who stepped off the bus, said, “I’m thinking what in the world is going on and my first thought is that it was a lot of kids on the bus. Thank goodness he was okay he was safe, but it was not your typical Sunday afternoon occurrence for sure. So, we’re blessed that it didn’t do any more damage than it did.”
Luckily, the boy lived to tell the tale, having come out of the bus without a scratch on his body. Others on the road did not suffer any major injuries after the incident either. However, the boy did hit a few vehicles along the way and the driver of one of the cars he struck was left with a minor injury. “The male juvenile crashed the school bus around 11:25 a.m. into a tree after crashing into 3 vehicles and fleeing from officers,” McKneely told NBC News.
As investigations took place into the incident, the police discovered and revealed that the bus the boy had stolen belonged to a private owner. The owner had subcontracted the vehicle with Progress Head Start, according to WBRZ Channel 2. The bus came with a push-to-start ignition and that was what allowed the boy to rev up the bus and zoom off. The 11-year-old’s feet were also reportedly too small to reach the pedals of the bus and so, officers believe he stood the entire time while driving the large vehicle.
Officers took him into juvenile detention and the boy was charged on several counts including theft of a motor vehicle. The child was also charged with aggravated assault for “purposely trying to strike a vehicle,” according to the police department. According to the New York Post, the police also charged him with three counts of damage to property and aggravated flight.