At least 15 Nathan Hale Academy students rode a different "bus" to school yesterday - two Toledo police cars and a minivan driven by an unidentified, elderly West Toledo woman.
The elementary school students were offered the alternative transportation after the TARTA bus that takes them to school didn't come.
That's because their regular, morning bus driver, Tiffany Powell, was involved in a minor accident behind the Sears store in West Toledo about a half-hour before the children were to be picked up, said Jim Gee, general manager of the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority.
No one was on the bus, which sideswiped a guardrail during a turn, and Ms. Powell wasn't hurt, he said. However, the accident slowed down the bus' route.
"By the time we had another bus available, it was about 15 minutes later coming," Mr. Gee said.
The students, and perhaps a few more, were seen on Ottawa Drive near Rosedale Avenue by Officer Michelle Price while she was patrolling as part of Project L.O.O.K., or Local Officers Observing Kids.
The initiative started two years ago and allows community service officers at the Scott Park district station to patrol bus routes, major walking routes, and areas around schools before classes start in the district's sectors.
The children, who began to file into the elderly woman's house, said their bus hadn't come. They said four buses passed them at the nearby stop, and that someone on one of the buses told them their parents would have to call someone regarding the situation, the officer said.
Officer Price called for a paddy wagon to take the children to school, but it was re-routed because of a weapons call on Monroe Street. The elderly woman offered to take seven of the children in her minivan. Officer Price and her colleague, Officer Sally Donovan, drove the rest - four in each of their patrol cars.
Assistant Principal John Preston said TARTA called the school and told officials the bus would be late. The students "were on their way to school," he said. "They were going to walk to school if they had to."
Mr. Preston said the 15 to 20 students received breakfast after they arrived, and school officials got them off to class.
Mr. Gee said he advises children to wait at the bus stop if the bus doesn't come.
"If something unforeseen happens like it did [yesterday] morning and we're running late, we still run the route," he said. "Buses can get delayed just by construction and railroad crossings. It's uncommon, but it can happen."
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