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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Utah
Trina A. Higgins, United States Attorney
Contact: Felicia Martinez, Public Affairs Specialist
For Immediate Release
Saturday, March 2, 2024

Former School Bus Driver Accused of Igniting a Bus Full of Children is Indicted and Detained

SALT LAKE CITY — Michael Austin Ford, 58, of West Valley City, a former Granite School District bus driver, was ordered detained March 1 by a U.S. magistrate judge after he was accused of setting the school bus on fire on two occasions. Ford was indicted by a federal grand jury on Feb. 21 for two alleged incidents of arson while driving the bus. 

According to court documents, in February 2022, Ford allegedly set a Granite School District school bus on fire that had 42 children inside and did so while driving in traffic. As alleged in court documents, Ford used an ignition device to start a fire on the bus and was captured on video continuing to drive the bus, despite smoke billowing past his face towards the back of the bus where children were seated. 

In April 2023, Ford was again driving a Granite School District bus in traffic when he was captured on video igniting a fire on the bus. Again, Ford continued to drive the bus with smoke billowing past his face. Days later, in April 2023, Ford was arrested by Granite School Police and questioned about the fire but was released. 

Ford is charged with two counts of arson of a vehicle of an organization receiving federal funds. A jury trial is scheduled for April 29, 2024, at 8:30 a.m. in courtroom 8.3 before a U.S. district judge at the U.S. District Courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City.  

U.S. Attorney, Trina A. Higgins, of the District of Utah made the announcement.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is investigating the case. 

Assistant United States Attorney Michael J. Thorpe of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah is prosecuting the case. 

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department of Justice launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities and measuring the results.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 


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