MONROEVILLE (KDKA) – Police are trying to figure out how a school bus slammed into a local Vitamin Shoppe early Thursday morning.
The bus crashed into the store at the Penn Place Plaza along Route 22 in Monroeville. Police were alerted to the crash around 3:20 a.m. when the business’ alarm was tripped.READ MORE: Lawmakers In Harrisburg Expected To Approve Constitutional Amendment To Change The Way Lieutenant Governors Are Chosen
The driver of the First Student bus was gone when police arrived on the scene. The bus was completely inside the shop, with just the back door sticking outside.
When police arrived, the back door of the bus was open. The front door, where passengers typically enter and exit the bus, was locked.
“He had enough force to move the bus all the way into the building,” Monrieville Police Chief Doug Cole said. “With the assistance of neighboring departments we did a K-9 track, obviously there was no one on the bus. And it came up negative with any kind of suspects.”
First Student says the bus came from a garage in Plum, along Old Frankstown Road. The lot is fenced in and is locked. First Student says whoever took the bus, drove through the fence to get out.
The buses in that garage service students in Woodland Hills and parts of the Pittsburgh Public Schools system. The bus taken was actually out of service, while waiting for an inspection.
The Vitamin Shoppe had significant damage inside. However, police do not believe the crash was an attempt to rob the store.
Smashburger, which shares a wall with Vitamin Shoppe, also suffered some damage in the crash.
According to Smashburger’s owner, most of the damage was contained to the kitchen area.READ MORE: Wendel Post Office Closes, Leaving Residents With Questions And Concerns
“It’s pretty significant in the kitchen,” said Jeff Harris, Smashburger’s general manager. “Wall got buckled about 18 inches where it was moved. Significant damage … The worst thing of all is calling all the employees to let them know that the schedule is suspended until further notice. Back up to business.”
“I did not need this today. Not at all. I didn’t need this any day. And I feel really bad for our neighbors at the Vitamin Shoppe because they’re probably going to be down for a long time until they get repaired,” Harris said.
Both businesses are closed until further notice.
First Student representatives removed the hard drive from the bus. The camera on those school buses turns on automatically when a bus is started up. Although there is a camera on the bus, it would have been facing the back, not the driver.
Police say what they’re doing first is checking all video surveillance cameras in the area. That’s just about every restaurant and shop along William Penn Highway. Unfortunately, there are no cameras in the strip mall where the accident happened.
They are also hoping the bus’ GPS will give them a better sense about the path it took before the crash.
The bus was removed around 7:30 a.m.
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