NewsPinellas County


Explosion on Pinellas County bus injures passenger, police say

Authorities looking into incident on bus
Posted at 11:09 PM, Jan 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-09 18:25:47-05

LARGO, Fla. — Largo police detectives are looking into an explosion that happened on a Pinellas County bus, Monday afternoon.

According to detectives, a woman suffered severe second degree burns to the area near her waist and upper legs.

ABC Action News learned, from the Largo Police Department, at least one lithium battery inside the woman's backpack exploded on her lap. Detectives said they found an e-cigarette in the same backpack. They are trying to determine how the explosion happened and whether the two are connected.

The bus was driving on Belcher Road just north of Ulmerton Road, when it stopped at the bus stop and the driver noticed smoke, according to the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.

"We consider it to be an unfortunate incident for someone who was riding our buses," Jeffrey Thompson, PSTA Director said.

According to police, Monday's incident appears to be an accident.

"We have a very safe transit system. Our operators are trained on stuff like this so the response from the bus operator was absolutely flawless," Thompson said.

While there were more than a dozen passengers on the bus during the explosion, only one person suffered injuries.

The victim was taken to a local hospital. At this time, the police department is not identifying the injured passenger or the hospital she was taken to.

According to Thompson, another bus picked up the evacuated passengers.

The bus, the explosion occurred on, had damage to one of its seats. ABC Action News learned it has been fixed and the bus should be back in service soon.

Thompson also said there was a camera on the bus and the PSTA will be reviewing the footage.

PSTA also issued ABC Action News a statement that read: 

“Thanks to the alertness and quick response of our bus operator, the woman riding our bus was able to receive immediate medical attention for her injuries. Had the rider been operating a vehicle at the time of this unfortunate accident, matters could have been a lot worst. We are certainly wishing her a quick and speedy recovery.”

Several 911 calls were released Tuesday. 

One dispatch call said, "We had an explosion on a buson a PSTA bus, and our caller is PSTA dispatch."

It continued, "Hey, so that explosion on the bus was an e-cigarette."

Later personnel said, "We’re with patient right now. It was a Vape in the patients backpack that exploded. There’s only one patient injured."