Thomas Jason Ruchotzke allegedly steals a school bus from a residence. He is charged with operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent, criminal mischief in the third degree, and driving with a suspended license.
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Dozens of school bus drivers and other transportation staff here were recognized for their emergency response during a recent bomb threat at a high school.
The transportation team works for Student Transportation of America’s (STA’s) Grand Junction terminal in Mesa County Valley School District 51.
On March 28, the terminal was notified of a threat and possibly dangerous situation at a local high school. Twenty-three of STA's drivers responded during their break between routes, alongside four mechanics and seven other staff members. According to STA, the team jumped into action within minutes to help the school evacuate students to safety at a neighboring school.
"A call to action occurred, and within minutes we had 31 buses on site at a period of time in the day when our drivers were in between routes," said Shane Anderson, STA’s operations manager in Grand Junction. "Our drivers and staff reacted so swiftly with little direction; I could not be more proud to have the opportunity and honor to be their leader.”
Members of the local school community also expressed their appreciation for the STA Grand Junction team’s actions.
“Outstanding! We could not be happier with the performance and handling of this situation," said Phil Onofrio, chief operating officer of Mesa County Valley School District 51.
“What another shining example of our great partnership and STA's dedication to our students and communities,” said Tim Leon, the district’s security supervisor and a reserve police officer for the Fruita Police Department.
"In a time when parents are confused, scared, and don't know what to do, it was comforting to know STA handled my daughter and all of the students with compassion and concern," said Charlotte Francis, a parent in Mesa County Valley School District 51.
The STA Grand Junction team was recognized at a ceremony in which they were given “hero” pins and certificates from Denis Gallagher, chairman and CEO of STA parent company Student Transportation Inc. (STI).
"We have a very special STI family throughout North America who I am proud to work for," Gallagher said. "Our folks in Grand Junction are no exception, and they rose to the occasion during an emergency situation and did an amazing job."
The Grand Junction team members who were recognized are:
• School bus drivers: Gloria Street, Monica Martin, Jimmy Petitt, Joseph Beghan, Kathy Theisen, Mary Bosch, Sharon Sommerville, Thyra Stewart, Michelle Schurz, Tom Melendy, Charlotte Francis, Eugene Frye, Chris Smith, Russ Bergquist, Clark Kelly, Faye Morosini, Carolyn Goodwin, Joe Motillo, Joe Vigil, Bix Bigler, Stephen Langdon, Michael Weimer, Vicki McCune, Floyd Kendall
• Mechanics: Dave Palella, John Lineback, Jay Yoakum, Billie Waugh
• Lot leads: Tim Collins, Linda Williams
• Router: Joshua Jewkes
• Safety supervisor: Lisa Goodnough
• Dispatchers: Marsha Jones, Cynthia "Ann" Jones
• Assistant manager: Darrah Barnes
• Operations manager: Shane Anderson
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