A 16-year-old boy is in custody after taking a SEPTA bus for a joyride this morning and crashing it into 15 vehicles.
"The kid claims he took the bus because he wanted to practice driving for his driver's license," said Michael Chitwood, superintendent of the Upper Darby Police Department.
The incident began about 11:25 a.m. at the 69th Street Terminal. The boy, who was playing hooky from school, was walking down Victory Avenue when he saw an unoccupied, idling bus.
The temptation was too great to resist.
Minutes later, Upper Darby police were alerted that the bus had been stolen.
A few blocks away, two Upper Darby detectives spotted the bus headed westbound on the West Chester Pike. They turned on the lights and siren and tried to pull the bus over. The bus then suddenly veered left onto Brief Street, Chitwood said.
The driver steered the bus into a parking lot where he lost control of the vehicle.
"The bus crashed into 15 vehicles," Chitwood said. "Several of them were totaled. It went right over them like a bowling ball."
The bus came to a sudden stop when it crashed into a light standard, Chitwood said. The pole toppled over, smashing the bus's front windshield.
The boy tried to run, but detectives Matt Rowles and Bill Sminkey caught up with him after a brief chase.
One of the vehicles struck was a SUV occupied by four people.
"Fortunately nobody was hurt," Chitwood said.
Chitwood said the boy, who lives in a group home in West Philadelphia, has "significant mental health issues."
"He's 16 but he only has the mental capacity of an 8-year-old," Chitwood said.
He said the boy will be charged recklessly endangering another person, theft, and aggravated assault.