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ST. GEORGE — A bus driver in southwest Utah is glad that kindergarten students were not on board his bus when an object hit the windshield Wednesday and sent glass flying.
"It was just a whack. A very, very loud whack," said Ned Ericksen, a bus driver with the Washington County School District. "And it splattered glass — splintered glass — all over the inside of the bus."
Ericksen was traveling north along 3000 East (between Merrill Road and 1140 South) in St. George around 11:45 a.m. when the object hit his windshield. He was on his way to Riverside Elementary in Washington City to pick up half-day kindergartners.
"It must have been thrown," he said of whatever hit his windshield.
Even though pieces of glass hit him, Ericksen wasn't injured. He kept driving to Riverside Elementary to complete his route before calling police.
"It was pretty frightening, especially if students had been on the bus," he said.
The Washington County School District worries this may have been part of ongoing TikTok challenges that encourage students to vandalize school property.
"They're listening to these people out there that are telling them to do foolish things and they're doing it," said Steven Dunham, director of communications for the Washington County School District. "It's costing us and them, the taxpayer, tens of thousands of dollars and, in this one, it could have cost a life."
Dunham encouraged parents to talk to their kids and warn them about the dangers of carrying out one of the TikTok challenges.
"A bus weighs 36,000 pounds traveling at 40 miles per hour and somebody lobbed a soda bottle at it, and it could have killed our driver," Dunham said. "He could have crossed the median easily and killed other people."
The school district, police and Ericksen haven't been able to find the object that hit the bus. Ericksen wonders if it was a cantaloupe. The school district thinks it was a soda bottle.
"That's not right. This kind of stuff is not called for," Ericksen said. "It's definitely a crime, vandalism. It could have had severe repercussions. You know, I could have been hurt very badly."
Anyone with information is asked to call the St. George Police Department at 435-627-4300 and reference incident number 21P025909.
"We're very lucky," Dunham said. "We're very lucky, A: that the bus driver was able to keep control, and B: that there were no students on the bus."