November 2, 2013 - 4:41pm
BY MATTHEW JACKONEN
A 22-year old male student bus driver was arrested after he left a Blue Bus unattended for over two hours near the intersection of Arch and White Streets early Saturday morning.
The bus was left alone and running between roughly midnight and 2 a.m.
University Police arrived to check on the status of the bus shortly after 2 a.m. After searching the vehicle they found a backpack and a wallet that may have led to the missing driver.
The bus's driver arrived shortly thereafter and police proceeded to question him.
The driver promptly took responsibility for the vehicle, and after a series of questions, he admitted he had left the bus and walked to his place of residence. He responded in the affirmative when police officers asked if he had been preoccupied at home.
Police on scene also said the University's bus dispatch had mentioned that a driver had gone missing earlier in the night. After calling the situation in to dispatch, University Police told the driver that he could be arrested for fraud and would “most likely” be fired.
Shortly thereafter, the driver was handcuffed and taken away. University Police later said the student was arrested on charges of unlawfully driving away of an automobile — a statutory term for motor vehicle theft. If found guilty, the driver could face up to two years in prison for the felony. He was later released pending warrant authorization.
A replacement driver drove the bus back to the garage on South Campus.
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the University is looking into the matter, but stressed that drivers are never allowed to take their buses home for breaks when they're on the job. When asked why dispatch didn't alert police to the missing bus sooner, Fitzgerald said it is too soon to comment.
Last year, Antoine James, an ex-University bus driver, was charged with unlawfully driving away in a car. James, two years after his time as a bus driver had ended, stole a University bus and was later caught by police on a highway in Romulus. It was later found that he kept the keys to the lot after leaving the job.
Update: This story has been updated with a preliminary statement from University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald.