Former Utah school bus driver accused of setting fire to buses, including one with children on board: DOJ

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A seasoned, now former school bus driver in Utah faces federal and state arson charges after allegedly lighting his school bus on fire with dozens of children on board.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah, Michael Austin Ford, 58, of West Valley City was indicted by a grand jury in February, and was detained on Friday, after authorities accused him of setting a school bus on fire on two separate occasions.

Police said Ford, who was a Granite School District bus driver for 25 years, allegedly started the fire with an “incendiary source.”

Authorities said in one incident, at least 42 children were on board the bus when Ford allegedly started the blaze and kept driving.

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Ford allegedly used an ignition device to start the fire and continued to drive the bus while smoke billowed to where the dozens of children sat in the back.

“Undeterred by the smoke, the Defendant only stops the bus when children are seen and heard on video coughing, covering their faces, and complaining about smoke,” prosecutors said in court documents.

Officials said that the incident was captured on video.

Granite School District school bus

Over a year later, in April 2023, Ford was again driving a Granite School District bus in traffic when he allegedly ignited a fire on the bus. 

Again, Ford continued to drive the bus with smoke billowing past his face.

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Prosecutors said Ford attempted to tamper with the bus surveillance system in the days before the second fire.

Days later, Ford was arrested by Granite School Police and questioned about the fire but was released, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Ford was arrested again on felony state charges in October 2023, according to a Utah docket report. 

Michael Ford in school bus

Ford was charged with two counts of arson of a vehicle of an organization receiving federal funds, prosecutors said.

Ford has been ordered detained ahead of his federal trial, set for April 29, in Salt Lake City.

Authorities did not disclose a motive behind the incidents.

The Granite School District and the prosecutor’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. 

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