COLUMBUS, Ohio — A school bus driver here was stabbed and sexually assaulted while beginning the drive on her morning route on Friday, police said.

The Hilliard City Schools bus driver called 911 to report the assault at around 7:15 a.m., according to a news release from the Columbus Division of Police. Police were searching for the suspect, and the driver had been hospitalized.

Police told WCMH that the suspect boarded the bus at some point the night before. According to 911 calls, the driver told employees at an OhioHealth facility that she thought she heard noise being made by a raccoon that had gotten into the bus, so she stopped, grabbed a broom, and walked to the back of the bus, according to the news source. Then, the suspect grabbed her and the broom and started beating her. Officers told WCMH that the man stabbed and sexually assaulted her before running away.

An OhioHealth employee told the 911 dispatcher that the driver had zip ties around her wrists, was bleeding, had tears in her clothing, and “cuts all over her body,” the news source reports.

The suspect is described as a man who was wearing dark clothing and face paint, according to WCMH. Police told the news source that the bus was not the driver’s regular bus, so they do not believe she was specifically targeted.

The news source obtained a letter that was sent to parents of Hilliard City Schools students notifying them of the attack. The letter detailed security measures that will be taken effective immediately until police advise district officials that the current threat has subsided, such as adding security personnel onsite before, during, and after any trips, and district operations personnel or Hilliard police making checks of each bus prior to departure on any trip or route. The letter also stated that the district would evaluate long-term practices and procedures and make changes as needed.

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