Parents prepare for legal action after school bus hijacking in South Carolina

South Carolina News

RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) — A week after police say a Fort Jackson trainee hijacked a school bus with children onboard, parents are demanding change.

Richland County deputies have charged 23-year-old Jovan Collazo in connection to the hijacking. Fort Jackson officials said Collazo escaped the military installation by jumping over a fence on May 6.

According to law enforcement, he got onto a school bus with 18 children on board after escaping Fort Jackson. Video shared by law enforcement from the school bus shows Collazo pointed an unloaded military-issued weapon at the bus driver.

No one was hurt in the incident, and Collazo was arrested by law enforcement shortly after leaving the bus.

Josh Flores said his two daughters were on board that bus. He spoke during a news conference with attorneys representing victims of the hijacking.

“My daughters are doing better. They have not returned to school because they’re having nightmares. They’re scared to go to school,” he said.

Flores was joined by attorneys Bakari Sellers and Jessica Fickling. They said no litigation has been filed yet, but they are hoping to get answers from Fort Jackson and Richland County School District Two officials about how this happened.

“There are going to be long term consequences for these group of children,” Seller said.

According to the attorneys, they have been speaking with other families about potential legal action. Flores said he has more questions than answers at this point.

“You have to ask yourself, how does a soldier from Fort Jackson get off the military base with a gun? How does that happen?” Flores asked.

According to a statement by officials at Fort Jackson, they have paused their weapons immersion training as they continue to investigate the hijacking.

Fort Jackson officials said they’ve expressed interest to the school district in meeting with the families as they continue to review their accountability measures.

In a statement, Richland School District Two said they continue to offer counseling services to students and employees. They have also been reviewing district practices and policies surrounding transportation safety.

Their full statement is below:

On May 6, 2021, an emergency incident occurred on a school bus near Eagle Park Road and Percival Road. The school bus was transporting elementary students to Forest Lake Elementary when an unauthorized individual with a weapon got on the bus. All of the students and the bus driver Kenneth Corbin were able to get off the bus safely a short time later. Mr. Corbin’s calm demeanor helped de-escalate a dangerous situation and exemplified the training he received through a Safe Pupil Training course. We continue to offer social and emotional counseling resources to assist students and employees with the healing process as they are dealing with a traumatic event. Immediately after the incident we began reviewing district practices and policies surrounding transportation safety. That process continues. We stand ready to engage in constructive and transparent dialogue about these processes as they relate to this incident. We appreciate the fast response and the cooperation we received from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the City of Columbia Police Department. It’s unfortunate that school districts have to prepare for situations like the one on May 6, but the practices and training we have in place for emergency situations proved to be immensely beneficial.

Richland School District Two

School officials said they will be holding a ceremony on Friday to recognize the bus driver, now identified as Kenneth Corbin.

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