Bus driver arrested for setting fire to buses with children on board

WEST VALLEY CITY, UT – A former Utah school bus driver, Michael Austin Ford, 58, is facing both federal and state arson charges. Ford is accused of setting his school bus on fire twice while dozens of children were on board.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah reports that Ford, a 25-year veteran of the Granite School District, was indicted by a grand jury in February. He was detained last Friday following the allegations. Ford allegedly used an incendiary device to start the fires.

In one instance, 42 children were on the bus when Ford reportedly ignited the fire and continued to drive. The smoke filled the bus, eventually causing the children to cough and cover their faces. Ford only stopped the bus when the children’s distress became apparent.

The incident was captured on video. According to court documents, Ford remained unfazed by the smoke and only stopped the bus when the children’s discomfort became evident.

In April 2023, over a year after the first incident, Ford was once again behind the wheel of a Granite School District bus. He is alleged to have ignited a second fire while in traffic, again driving through the smoke.

Prosecutors claim that Ford attempted to tamper with the bus’s surveillance system before the second fire. He was subsequently arrested and questioned by Granite School Police but was released. In October 2023, Ford was arrested again on felony state charges, as per a Utah docket report.

Ford is charged with two counts of arson of a vehicle of an organization receiving federal funds. He has been ordered detained ahead of his federal trial, scheduled for April 29 in Salt Lake City.

The motive behind the incidents has not been disclosed by authorities. Both the Granite School District and the prosecutor’s office have yet to comment on the matter.