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Bullet Hits School Bus; Police Say Driver 'Very Fortunate'

November 22, 2011

From Post-Journal.com

CONEWANGO [NY] - A Randolph Central School bus was hit by a projectile in what is believed to be a hunting accident Monday.

No one was injured in the incident, but police said the driver was fortunate not to have been hit.

The New York State Police responded after a call was placed at 9 a.m.

According to Captain Steven Graap of the Jamestown barracks of the state police, a bus driver for the Randolph Central School reported the incident.

The incident occurred on Route 241 in Conewango at 7:30 a.m. The bus was carrying students in grades K-12.

"He heard what appeared to be a firecracker noise, pulled the bus over, and observed there was damage," said Graap.

A hole in the door was discovered, and the children were transferred to another bus and continued on to school. The bus was then taken back to the district garage where police were called.

The projectile went through the door where children get on and off the bus and lodged behind the driver.

"A projectile had gone through the passenger door where the kids enter and exit the bus and ended up causing a hole and lodging in the metal skin behind the driver up in the roof," he said.

Graap said the driver was "very fortunate" not to have been hit.

No injuries were reported in the incident, and police are investigating the cause of the incident.

"We have sent resources, troopers, investigators along with the Environmental Conservation Officers to the scene with an ID Technician to retrieve the possible projectile," he said.

Police believe the incident to be hunting-related at this time.

"We are going to canvass the area by Swamp Road which is around the area he (bus driver) identified as where the incident occurred, and see if we can locate any hunters or people around the area to interview," said Graap. "At this particular point we believe it is a hunting related situation or accident."

Graap said it is believed that the act was not intentional, but would need to be investigated.

"We do not believe there is any intentional act," he said. "This is an area where hunters do frequent, it is common for hunters to go and hunt. Of course we are only a couple of days into shotgun and rifle season, the area is rural and known to be frequented by hunters. We are leaning in that area of a hunting-related situation, but we still need to look and see if there is any criminal culpability and identify anybody out this way."

The hunter responsible could still face possible reckless endangerment charges. The investigation is ongoing.

Graap asked hunters to use caution when enjoying the sport.

"We are hoping that hunters are aware of their surroundings and everybody is safe," he said.

According to the New York Environmental Conservation Police, it is a violation of New York hunting and trapping regulations to discharge a firearm across a public highway.

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