The Investigators: Treading on Terror

The Investigators: Treading on Terror

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Thousands of kids in the Baton Rouge metro area take the bus to school every day, but how do parents know the wheels carrying them there are safe?

According to one bus driver in Zachary, the company he works for is ignoring a potentially unsafe situation.

Shaderick Emery has been driving buses for seven years.

"I drive 75 to 80 students a day," Emery said. "I have three different routes."

He works for First Student, a privately owned student transportation company contracted by Zachary Community Schools. Emery said he drives bus No. 301 every school day and shuttles students to and from Northwestern Middle, Rollins Place and Copper Mill Elementary. But before he hits the road, Emery inspects the bus he drives.

"Checking for leaks, making sure everything is in place and nothing's coming loose," he explained.

Everything appeared to be okay until he got to the back of the bus.

"There's one here. There's one here and I don't know how many more could possibly be in this tire," he pointed out.

Emery counted at least seven nails in one of the four rear tires, but that was just the beginning.

"It's completely smooth. There's no tread depth. It's dry-rotted," he said.

And the tread on the back tires barely existed. The front tires, on the other hand, just to give you a comparison, appeared to be in good shape.

Once he was done with his routine check, Emery documented his findings on a device called Zonar. He entered that the tread on the rear tires appears to be worn.

"I put it in every time I do a pre-trip, in the morning and afternoon," he said.

Emery said he has reported the tires twice a day since the beginning of February and has even voiced his concern, more than once, when he took the bus in for maintenance. He said when he gets the bus back, the balding tires are still there.

"I haven't gotten a response. It's like they want me to sweep it under the rug," he claimed.

Emery said First Student is putting his and his young passengers' lives in danger every time he gets behind the wheel.

"I don't have any traction. I was especially concerned when we had a lot of rain a couple of weeks ago and it was flooded everywhere. This bus could hydroplane," he explained.

"I think this bus needs to be taken off the road until they put the tires on," he said.

"It's just time that someone says something," Emery added.

Scott Devillier, superintendent of Zachary Schools, said he meets with First Student once a month. He added to his knowledge, the company has always met state and national standards.

A spokesman for First Student said the safety of students is something the company takes seriously and its safety record is two times better than the industry average. He added maintenance crews looked specifically at bus No. 301 because of this story and found the tires on bus No. 301 exceed federal regulations for safe tire tread. Workers reportedly found no nails in the tread. Officials also said there are no records of pre- and post-inspections that include possible tire issues within the past 60 days.

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