Prince William County’s bus service is now investigating why one of its drivers decided to pilot his charter bus more than 140 miles to Southeastern Virginia, where the bus somehow caught fire.
The Courtland Fire Department responded to a call around noon Dec. 11 and discovered a 57-seat bus belonging to the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission ablaze on the side of a road in Southampton County, just outside Suffolk.
Chief Deputy Maj. G.H. Drewery, a spokesman for the Southampton Sheriff’s Department, said the 55-year-old driver appeared to have suffered a medical emergency, and the vehicle’s engine ultimately caught fire.
Drewery said first responders extinguished the blaze and took the driver to a local hospital, and sheriff’s deputies are still investigating whether the fire stemmed from a mechanical failure or some sort of accident. He added that the driver was the only person on the bus.
Drewery declined to give the driver’s name but said the man is not facing criminal charges at this time. PRTC spokeswoman Christine Rodrigo also would not release his name, except to say that he has worked for the bus service for “just over one year.”
Rodrigo added that the driver had “completed his morning trip” and then “did not return to the bus yard.” She said PRTC is still investigating the incident in more detail to understand how the bus made it several hours south before anyone noticed its absence, and added that the bus service has “updated internal procedures to account for each bus as it returns to the bus yard at the end of scheduled trips.”
In August, another PRTC driver, 24-year-old Mellat Kassa, deviated from her route and drove her bus into Maryland. State troopers ultimately caught up with her at the Tydings Memorial Bridge near the Delaware state line, and police charged her with grand larceny in connection with the incident.