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School Bus Missing in Oley, Pennsylvania

Aired January 24, 2002 - 14:12   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We want to get you an update on a story we're following, this breaking story about a missing school bus in eastern Pennsylvania. We understand this is in Berks County, Pennsylvania, around Oley, Pennsylvania. School buses with 10-20 students, we hear, was supposed to have arrived at the Berks Christian School at 9:00 Eastern Time, which is about four hours ago, and the school bus never arrived. The school bus was supposed to travel along 662, which is also known as the Oley township -- Oley turnpike, rather.

We're joined on the phone by Robert Becker, who is a Berks Christian School administrator, to get the latest on that.

Can you tell us anything new, sir?

ROBERT BECKER, BERKS CHRISTIAN SCHOOL: Not really. The search continues, as I'm told by the state police, and he's speaking for all the police municipalities.

I got a call from the commissioner. The state police assured me that we've got helicopters in the air now, and we'll get more as weather clears out. Governor Schweiker (ph) called and expressed word for the situation, that everything has been put into place to try to come up with some information or -- and, of course, we praying for good conclusion.

HARRIS: Let me ask you about your drive to work. How was your drive to the school today? Do you travel on that same highway?

BECKER: No. The drive was nothing weatherwise as hazardous, maybe slight fog, a little bit of wetness the road, but I would have to say that the route that they took has no deep ravines or deep creeks. If there was an accident, I'm sure it would have been seen.

HARRIS: Yes, OK, I understand. Let me ask you if you can clarify for us the number of children that were involved. We have heard anywhere from 10 to 20. Can you narrow that down for us?

BECKER: Yes, it's actually 13 boys and girls, 13 boys and girls -- from tenth grade -- ranging from 10th grade down to first grade.

HARRIS: Tenth to first grade. Thank you for clarifying that for us. And I assume that you've been in touch with their parents. Were their parents there at the school? BECKER: The police, the state police, set up a command center at the Oley municipal building, the township police headquarters for their ability to get information quickly.

HARRIS: Do they have -- are there any hints at all? We understand the bus driver was an elderly man, somewhere between 60 and 70 years old. Are they concerned about his health here in this case?

BECKER: In this case, the Oley school district is responsible to transport the kids that live in that district to our school, if they would like to come to our school. They in turn contract with the Quigley bus company, so he is not an employee of ours. Therefore, I don't know him. He's an employee of Quigley bus company.

HARRIS: I understand it. The first question that comes to mind is whether or not they were concerned that he had some sort of existing health condition that may play into this as well.

Now we understand there were also flash flood watches that were in effect for this area. Have you heard any reports of any roads being washed out?

BECKER: No, none. I don't think that's a situation here. Again, any creek that they would have gone over or been near is not that deep. The ravines are not that steep. Somebody would have certainly found them by now.

HARRIS: Using the megaphone you have on our air right now, is there anything you can ask from the public to help you out on this case?

BECKER: Well, just that it's a typical 45 -- or 49-passenger regular-sized school bus, bus 22. I can't really say for sure what the -- whether it's Quigley that's printed on the side or Oley school district, I'm not sure about that.

HARRIS: Mr. Becker, we thank you very much, and we certainly feel for you in this time, and we certainly hope that there is a happy ending to this story.

BECKER: Thank you very much.

HARRIS: Good luck to you.

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