A severely autistic 15-year-old student took the wheel of a 10-seat school bus in Drexel Hill, Upper Darby, Monday afternoon after a fight forced the driver and an aide off the vehicle, police said.
Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said two 15-year-old boys started fighting in the back of the bus, which carries between six and eight students. The teens are enrolled in Elwyn, which serves intellectually handicapped young people, he said.
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In the course of the fight, one teenager strangled the other unconscious, Chitwood said, causing the driver to pull over on the 1500 block of Township Line Road. A bus aide ran out to call police as the driver headed toward the back of the vehicle to try and resolve the situation.
When the aide returned, he was chased outside by one of the boys, who then took the wheel.
"So now the driver and the aide are outside the bus and the 15-year-old shuts the door," Chitwood said, "and starts to drive."
Almost simultaneously, Chitwood said, a larger bus with almost 30 kids pulled up close by. Watching the incident unfold, the bus driver stopped, and when she saw the 15-year-old behind the wheel, she maneuvered her vehicle and pushed the other to the side of the road.
"Thank God that kid did not get rolling on Township Line Road," Chitwood said.
No injuries were reported.