Pepper Spray Sickens School Bus Driver

A San Juan Capistrano middle school student released pepper spray on his school bus Tuesday as it returned from a field trip on a busy freeway, sending the overwhelmed driver and three students to a hospital, officials said.

The driver and students, all from Marco F. Forster Middle School, were treated and released at Columbia Huntington Beach Hospital and Medical Center, a nursing supervisor said. Pepper spray hampers breathing and causes the eyes to water and close due to swelling.

California Highway Patrol spokeswoman Denise Medina said it was unclear if the student released the pepper spray on purpose or by accident.

The incident was under investigation. The boy who set off the canister was expected to be released to his parents Tuesday evening.


The bus, carrying 18 students--all age 13 or 14 years old--and six adults, was returning from a field trip to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles when the pepper spray was set off. The bus was going south on the San Diego Freeway north of Springdale Street at the time.

The driver managed to pull safely to the shoulder, Medina said.