By Ashley Rader
The wheels on the bus will once again be going round and round.
But those wheels will belong to someone else.
With a fleet of buses on loan from other local school systems, the Elizabethton City School system was able to pick up students for school on a regular schedule this morning after vandalism halted pickups on Monday.
Of the system’s 13 school buses, Director of Schools Ed Alexander said at least nine were confirmed to have had sugar poured into the diesel tanks, but all buses had to be treated as if they had been sugared too until confirmed otherwise. Two buses also had tires slashed.
“I can’t say how upsetting this is,” Alexander said. “We’ve dealt with vandalism in the past but it has never gone this far before.”
Alexander said he felt an investigation would lead law enforcement to the three individuals who were caught on exterior security cameras damaging the buses.
Security footage showed three individuals entered the parking lot where the buses were stored at around 1:30 a.m. and vandalized the vehicles.
“We are making serious progress in the investigation,” he said.
Depending on how extensive the damage is, Alexander said repair bills could be hundreds of thousands of dollars, if engine replacements were needed on the school buses. The system has insurance that will cover it.
He said it was not clear how long repairs will take or how much the final cost will be. First, the fuel lines will be “bled” to clear out the diesel and any sugar. From there, mechanics will further investigate to see how bad the damage is.
“It can be quite costly,” Alexander said.
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