Vandalized, School Buses Sicken Students

Posted: May 02, 1997

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — Forty students from the Orchard Valley Middle School and two school bus drivers were briefly hospitalized yesterday after they experienced nausea and dizziness while riding on school buses that had been sprayed by vandals with foam from fire extinguishers.

Fred DeLia, the township's director of emergency management, said the students and drivers were treated at Kennedy Memorial Hospitals-Washington Division and released.

He added that an employee at the township school district's fenced-in bus lot, at Ganttown Road and Hurffville-Cross Keys Road, called police about 3:30 a.m. after spotting three juveniles climbing over a fence and leaving the lot.

A search showed that vandals had removed the fire extingushers on seven or eight buses and sprayed the powdery chemical inside the vehicles. DeLia said the intruders also spat in several buses.

Workers cleaned the vehicles before they were taken out on their routes shortly after 7 p.m. But just before 8 a.m., DeLia said, an unidentified bus driver taking students to the Orchard Valley Middle School reported having become dizzy and nauseous.

``The woman pulled the bus over to the side at Altair Drive and Fomalhaut Avenue and called for help,'' DeLia said.

After the driver was taken to the hospital by ambulance, the students were transferred to another bus and driven to school. A short time after their arrival there, several became ill. Eventually, all were taken to the hospital.

Authorities theorized that the spraying of the fire extinguishers probably cut down on the oxygen in the bus and that that might have caused the illnesses.

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