Philadelphia Man Arrested After Riding Bensalem HS Bus

 

Many Bensalem parents received a frightening robocall from the Bensalem School District around 8:10 Friday morning stating:

This morning during the AM Bus run to Bensalem High School, there was an incident on one of our school buses that required police response. All students on the bus are safe, accounted for, and arrived to BHS on time. There is no safety concern on our buses at this time. The Bensalem Township Police Department is handling additional follow-up in regard to the situation as is our Transportation Department.

Some parents received the chilling message by text message or email. All were left with the question, what happened exactly?

Those looking for answers from either Bensalem HS, Bensalem SD, or Bensalem Police websites found none. No information or updates regarding the situation could be found.

The incident began around 6:40 AM, when 40-year-old Elliott Smith Jr. boarded a school bus at Brownsville Road and Weldon Avenue and sat alone.

A student then texted their family saying there was a stranger on the bus. The family then called school officials and district officials immediately called 911.

Bensalem police officers intercepted the school bus at Galloway and Mechanicsville roads, removed Smith without incident, 4 miles after Smith Jr. boarded, and later charged him with unauthorized school bus entry.

Smith is currently being held on a $25,000 bond.

As of this writing, Bensalem Township Police have yet to issue a press release regarding the incident and no information can be found on their Crimewatch portal.

It wouldn’t be until around 4:30 PM that parents would receive any update about the situation.

The Bensalem School District would post a statement on its Facebook page and on Twitter, a link to the statement on the district’s website.

District Statement – November 4, 2022

This morning at approximately 6:40 AM, an adult male wearing a hooded sweatshirt, backpack and medical mask boarded a school bus that was headed to Bensalem High School. Thank you to our student who communicated with their family about the unwelcomed passenger. The family notified our Transportation team who called 911. Existing safety processes and protocols were enacted in collaboration with Bensalem Township Police.

The Bensalem Township Police intercepted the bus and removed the subject. At no time was there any interaction between the students and the subject.

Communication with the BHS Community and direct communication with the families of the students on the bus continues as part of this investigation.

As always, our number one priority is to make sure our students and staff are safe.

Additionally, since this is an active investigation, the district cannot comment any further at this time.

For parents, questions remain.

We spoke to one mother of a BHS student, who asked we only use her initials CT to identify her and she had questions for the School District:

“Where was the bus driver during this whole incident? Why was it up to a student to inform someone that a potentially dangerous situation was happening? Aren’t the buses equipt with a radio for emergencies or even a panic button to alert the police?”

“The district said safety protocols were enacted but I can’t see how when the first line of safety, the driver, wasn’t the one calling in the emergency.”

“If communications are the most important part of emergency planning then there is a huge hole in the districts safety protocols.”

Police have said Elliott Smith Jr. did not speak to or touch any students while on the bus and did not resist when he was taken into custody. 

While relieved this situation wasn’t the worst-case scenario, some parents are questioning the lack of timely updates from all officials involved and the apparent lack of communication equipment in the school buses themselves.

 

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