35 students treated after pepper spray exposure on a Tift Co. school bus

Potential legal action being taken from the pepper spray being used is unknown at this time.
Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 5:17 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 26, 2023 at 5:52 PM EDT
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TIFTON, Ga. (WALB) - 35 middle and high school students had to go to the hospital after someone used pepper spray on a Tift County school bus Tuesday morning, according to Tift County Schools.

According to Tift Regional Medical Center, they were all evaluated and released.

The Tift County School System posted a statement, saying they have confirmed that the chemical sprayed on the bus was pepper spray, but Tifton police and Tift County School System Security Staff are still investigating the cause of the incident.

”From what I understand, it was a middle school student that sprayed the mace. I’m not sure why, but my daughter was the second group to get on the bus. They had already taken the middle school students to school, and then the second group was the high school. But I guess some of the residue or whatever you want to call it was still on the bus,” Beverly McClain said.

Beverly McClain’s daughter is a freshman in high school. She says her daughter was one of the many kids taken to the hospital to be examined.

“She felt a little nauseated, and her stomach was bothering her. So we wanted to just make sure that it didn’t trigger anything like an asthma attack or anything,” McClain said.

But she and other parents say they were notified of the incident immediately. And that they believe the school system reacted in the best way possible.

“The safety of my children, I totally trust them. And we have- so haven’t heard of anything this serious,” Renee Cannady, a Tift County Schools parent, said.

“One thing would be honestly on the parent’s part is, you know, having a conversation at home about being just as respectful on the bus as they are in school, because what I see a lot of is blatant disrespect from the children towards the bus drivers,” John Mitchell, a Tift County Schools parent, said.

Tift County Schools posted a statement on their Facebook saying in part, “School administrators contacted EMS and out of an abundance of caution it was advised that students be transported to Tift Regional Medical Center for evaluation[...]This did not involve any students that ride the elementary school route.”

WALB the school system for an interview, but they referred us back to their written statements. We are reaching out to the Tifton Police Department for information on any legal actions that could come later, and we will keep you updated.