Investigation into substance exposure on Indian Land HS bus continues
Authorities: Investigators collected samples of a suspicious powdery substance found near the back of the bus.
LANCASTER, S.C. (WBTV) - On October 26, 2022, over 40 students and a bus driver were exposed to an unknown substance on a school bus at Indian Land High School.
In a new update from the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) on November 9, 2022, authorities say investigators collected samples of a suspicious powdery substance found on the floor near the back of the bus. Bus camera footage showed the substance on the bus much earlier in the day, but no symptoms were reported by anyone at that time according to authorities.
LCSO says it is waiting on testing results from the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). SLED forensics apparently do not come quickly, according to the sheriff’s office. That is because the lab is serving 300 law enforcement agencies.
The cause behind the symptoms experienced by students, the bus driver, and the EMS worker following the incident has not yet been determined.
“We’re waiting. We’re waiting. It’s a process of elimination,” say Bryan Vaughn.
Lancaster County Schools’ Bryan Vaughn waits alongside parents for the answers they have all been waiting for—what caused several people on an Indian Land bus to start getting similar symptoms.
“Investigations, sometimes they take awhile to do. We always want to be transparent and transparent but we don’t want to compromise an investigation,” he says.
WBTV’s S.C. reporter Morgan Newell reached out to the sheriff’s office to ask if there had been any update. At first, Newell was told the same thing we have been hearing—there is nothing else to report, but Lancaster Sheriff’s Office than emailed Newell this document with an update and answers to some of the questions parents have been asking WBTV.
Sheriff Barry Faile also addressed some of the speculation going around about what could have happened.
“We have no evidence one way or another that the samples collected were illegal drugs or any other noxious substance which caused the symptoms,” says Faile. “We are simply exploring all possibilities to include or exclude potential causes.”
In its original statement, the sheriff’s office says K9 teams searched the bus and students’ belongings for drugs and came up empty. Faile added that no one had or used illegal drugs on or near the bus.
“We have interviewed many people to determine whether illegal activity led to this incident,” said Faile. “We have yet to establish any such connection. Our investigation is open, and we will continue to follow all information we have or receive until we get an answer or determine we will not be able to get the answer.”
The sheriff’s office also addressed the question if this could have been carbon monoxide. Some thought the symptoms could have been reminiscent of carbon monoxide poisoning. In the original statement, the sheriff’s office says the bus was decontaminated by firefighters. The district also says the bus was cleared to use the next morning.
“The sheriff’s office has no evidence that carbon monoxide or any other emission from the bus itself caused the symptoms,” says the statement.
So while deputies try to figure out what the substance was, Vaughn asks for patience for the process.
”I think people need to be patient and just remember, let the authorities do their job,” says Vaughn.
The overall investigation is still ongoing at this time. Anyone with information should call the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office at 803-283-3388.
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