Students, driver exposed to unknown chemical on school bus, Lancaster County sheriff says

LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. — Several students and a driver were exposed to an unknown substance on a school bus late Wednesday afternoon at Indian Land High School, the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

Police officers, fire and paramedics were called to the school at 5:12 p.m. to a bus near the bus office behind the stadium. The bus had more than 40 students on it.

A 14-year-old girl lost consciousness, the sheriff said. Other students and an emergency management service worker also showed signs that they were exposed to the substance.

Paramedics did not take anyone to the hospital. However, a family member took the bus driver to a medical facility to be evaluated.

Sherard Brown said his nephew was one of the students on the bus when a fellow student passed out.

“The unknown is scary. We didn’t really know what was happening,” he said.

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The Lancaster County School District said the bus driver will be out of work for the next several days as a precaution and that everyone who was exposed is recovering. Parents were notified about the incident and picked up their children.

“All parents were advised to monitor their students and immediately seek medical attention if additional symptoms arise,” the sheriff said.

Mother Tai Montgomery said she was frustrated when the district posted about the incident nearly six hours after it happened. Instead, she believes an alert should have got out to all parents.

“What if it happens on another bus? Is it just limited to that one bus? There’s a lot of questions that we don’t know answers to,” she said.

Bryan Vaughn, with Lancaster County schools, said that can’t always be the case, especially with dozens of children and a bus driver in need of care.

A K-9 unit arrived at the scene, and investigators are inspecting the bus and the items on it. The substance will also be sent to a lab to be tested.

The school district called the exposure an isolated incident, saying it responded right away along with deputies and paramedics.

Firefighters will decontaminate the school bus after it is processed by investigators.

“I want to assure parents that we are treating this matter seriously and will conduct a thorough investigation to determine what caused this exposure,” said Sheriff Barry Faile. “We hope it was not the result of criminal activity, but we will go wherever the investigation leads us.”

If you have information, notify Crime Stoppers.

Return to this story for updates.

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