Police: Hilliard City Schools bus driver stabbed, sexually assaulted

HILLIARD, OH (WCMH) — Police say a Hilliard City Schools bus driver was attacked, stabbed and sexually assaulted on her bus this morning.

Police say the attack happened in the 5300 block of Nike Drive just after 7:30am this morning.

Police say the suspect boarded the bus sometime overnight, and it appears he was laying there waiting. When the bus driver boarded the bus and started her route, she then heard a sound in the back of the bus.

According to the 911 calls the victim told employees at the OhioHealth facility on Nike Dr. that when she heard a noise in the back of the bus, she thought it was a raccoon. So she stopped and took a broom and walked to the back of the bus. That’s when the suspect grabbed her and the broom and started beating her.

Officers say the man stabbed and sexually assaulted her before running off.

The suspect’s description is only a man who was wearing dark clothing and face paint.

The woman was treated at a nearby medical facility with non-life threatening injuries.

“We have a lady, she has zip ties around her wrists, she’s bleeding, she has blood all over her,” an OhioHealth employee says to the 911 dispatcher. “She said somebody was on her bus. It looks like she has tears in her dress and her underwear and she is freaking out.

“She’s bleeding. She has zip ties around her wrists. She has cuts all over her body.”

Police say this was not her regular bus, and there is no reason to believe she was specifically targeted.

“I want everyone, public transportation, school transportation tell your drivers, tell your compound supervisors, managers to check your buses in pairs before they leave the compound,”  said Sgt. Bernard Anderson with the Columbus Police Department. “The suspect is still out and I don’t want to make… I want to make sure that he’s not someplace else.”

Anyone who may have additional information is encouraged to call police or Central Ohio Crime Stoppers at 614-461-8477.

Hilliard City Schools superintendent Dr. John Marschhausen released the following letter to Hilliard families:

A Hilliard City School District bus driver was the victim of an assault on her bus this morning.  While the Hilliard City Schools were not in session today, our district provides transportation to numerous private and parochial schools. The Columbus Police Department is handling the investigation.  District personnel are partnering with the Columbus Police and evaluating what practices are necessary in response to this troubling event.

Beginning immediately, both bus compounds will have additional security personnel onsite before, during, and after any trips.  Security will be on hand to require appropriate identification to enter the bus areas.  District operations personnel and/or Hilliard Police will check each bus prior to departure on any trip or route.  We will continue these practices until such time that Columbus and Hilliard Police advise us that the current threat has subsided.  We are proud of the partnership we have with law enforcement in our community; these partnerships are vital in our continued efforts to keep our staff and students safe.

Over the coming days we will be evaluating long-term practices and procedures.  Our team – including law enforcement, drivers, administrators and staff – will convene to examine each practice and make changes where necessary.

I know there is always a desire for additional information.  I understand the frustration when you have questions that aren’t answered or you have a concern about unsubstantiated rumors.  Please know, we will share any and all information that we are able to share.  When investigations are taking place, and our dedicated law enforcement professionals are actively pursuing leads, evidence, and facts, we have an obligation to preserve the integrity of the police work.

Finally, please keep our driver and her family in your thoughts and prayers.  Our Hilliard School Community is strong.  We are vigilant in our commitment to providing our children a safe and inviting environment for learning and growth.  When we see something that seems out of place, we say something.  We believe in the power of our team; together we make this a great place to work and learn.

Keep checking NBC4i.com for real-time updates on this story. To get alerts for breaking news, grab the free NBC4 News App for iPhone or Android. You can also sign up for email alerts.

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