REPORT: Police Arrest Utah Bus Driver For Allegedly Lighting Buses On Fire, Including One With Kids On Board

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Ilan Hulkower Contributor
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Police on Monday arrested a Utah school bus driver and accused him of lighting fires on buses over the years, including one where kids were onboard, according to local reports.

Michael Austin Ford, 58, was detained in the Salt Lake County Jail while under investigation for aggravated arson, aggravated child abuse and criminal mischief relating to the fires he’d allegedly set in the past, KSL reported. Police said they can connect Ford to at least eight house and vehicle fires spanning over several years, per an affidavit cited by the outlet. (RELATED: Bus Driver Fired After Camera Catches Him Boozing While Taking Students Home, Officials Say)

In February 2022, security footage caught the accused committing arson on a school bus while 66 students were onboard, KUTV reported. “Multiple students are seen covering their faces with their shirts and coughing,” a probable cause statement reads, according to the outlet.

No students were injured and Ford stopped the vehicle and allowed the kids to get off the bus, KSL reported. A similar incident occurred on an empty bus in April 2023, according to KUTV.

Police said they can connect Ford to four bus fires, two fires at his residence and two vehicle fires, per the outlet. All four bus fires were electrical fires and started under the dashboard, the police investigators observed, ABC 4 reported. “Given the nature of the four bus fires with the same driver with them all starting in the same area of the bus, Ford lighting the dash area on fire while driving the bus [in April], it is reasonable to conclude that Ford is responsible for these fires,” West Valley Police investigators wrote, according to the outlet.

A spokesman for the school district said Ford was placed on leave after the April incident and was fired June 5, 2023, ABC4 reported.