Baton Rouge, LA – An 11-year-old Baton Rouge boy stole a school bus on Sunday morning in Scotlandville and went for a joyride with a cadre of police cars in pursuit before he crashed it into a tree.
The incident began on Oct. 11 when the little boy stole a school bus from its owner’s private property in the 300-block of Elmer Street, The Advocate reported.
The bus used to be subcontracted to Progress Head Start preschool but the owner has since died.
Baton Rouge Police Spokesman Sergeant L’Jean McKneely Jr. said the bus was unlocked and had a push button to start so it was easy for the 11 year old to steal it, WAFB reported.
Sgt. McNeely said that boy was so small that he had to stand up to reach the pedals when he drove.
The sergeant said police spotted the bus and pursed it for more than half an hour.
One witness told WAFB that the boy was laughing behind the wheel when he passed her with a slew of police cars following him, sirens wailing.
“As he got closer and closer and closer, I saw it’s a little boy in there and he was laughing,” Joy Grandey described the bizarre incident she filmed on her cellphone. “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.”
Police tried several times to stop the stolen bus but the little boy kept going, including straight across the center of a recently installed traffic circle, WAFB reported.
At one point, police put spike strips on the road to deflate the bus tires but the boy saw them and avoided the hazard, The Advocate reported.
The boy smashed the school bus into several vehicles before finally coming to a stop after he hit a tree in Libby Smith’s front yard, WAFB reported.
Smith said she was startled when the bus wrecked in the 1700-block of Greenwell Springs Road.
“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,” she told WAFB. “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.”
Police said the child obeyed police commands after the wreck and talked to the officers who took him into custody.
The boy was placed in handcuffs and transported to the parish juvenile detention center by police, according to The Advocate.
Sgt. McKneely said it was standard procedure for police to handcuff all detainees over the age of 10.
Baton Rouge police charged the 11 year old with theft of a motor vehicle, aggravated flight, three counts of aggravated damage to property, and aggravated assault, WAFB reported.
Sgt. McKneely said officers had been in touch with the boy’s parents, but it wasn’t known if he had been released from custody, according to The Advocate.