COLUMBIA (WACH) - Seats ripped open, exposed metal edges, and windows falling down.
That is what Heather Johnson saw when she went on a field trip with her four year old son this past Friday.
She was shocked the bus was allowed to fall into such disrepair when young children's safety should be a top priority.
"It was just horrible to know that four year olds and elementary school students are getting on buses like this, knowing that good and well they're going to mess with stuff. Because they're curious." says Heather, whose son is a student in Richland School District One.
When she looked to the back of the bus, the bad surprises kept coming.
And she said the response from the bus driver made things even worse.
"The emergency exit was gapped open about 'that' much and she said the door didn't even open properly, so not to worry about it." Heather gestures with her hands to show a distance of about six inches.
Karen York, the Director of Communications for Richland School District One, said this bus in particular is simply an extreme example of wear and tear. She says the situation was addressed as soon as it was brought to the District's attention.
York says the District received the report about the bus in question on Friday afternoon.
The bus was checked out and the state bus shop was notified.
And things happened pretty quickly after that.
"The bus was taken offline for use until it was repaired. And those repairs were made yesterday, on Monday morning, and the bus was back out on the road yesterday afternoon." states York.
But even with the quick repair of that particular bus, Heather is afraid there are more broken buses within the District's fleet that her son could be riding on.
"He sometimes rides the bus home and I'm afraid that his bus is like that. Lord forbid something happen when he's on his way home in the few minutes that he's on the bus that he's going to get hurt because of the District not repairing the seats like they should be." says Heather.
So for now, Heather will have to wonder, and worry, whether this bus was simply a bad apple...or whether the problem is more widespread.
York says the District is looking into why the situation with the bus in question was not addressed sooner.
She understands the condition of the buses is vitally important
And she says the District will work to further identify and other problem areas and address them as soon as possible.