Teen takes school bus on a joy ride
UNDATED (CNN) -- An 18-year-old stole a school bus and there's video to prove it. And quite a story before the theft folds into this crime.
The on-board video led in part to the capture of Jonathan Cole Collins two days later. Collins told police he had just been released from the Catoosa County jail and was walking to his grandmother's house, several miles and another county away.
But then he found Catoosa County school bus #77, with keys inside.
Fort Oglethorpe Police Detective Sergeant James Leamon has a copy of the on-board footage. Sgt. Leamon said, "I asked him his route and he said he came out of the high school traffic light there onto Battlefield Parkway, westbound all the way through to where it crosses 193 all the way into Flintstone."
Collins, who goes by Cole, took off on a 20 minute ride just after midnight Sunday. But before he got to the bus, he told police he had been on a much longer, colder walk from the jail. Det. Leamon said, "Said that he actually was going to sit first and to rest. He noticed the keys were in the bus and that's when he decided that he didn't want to walk anymore."
Collins had been in the Catoosa County jail since January 18th on a minor marijuana possession charge, according to Leamon.
When he bonded out on his own recognizance more than two weeks later, he left on foot. Collins told Leamon he walked from the jail to the parking lot between Battlefield Primary and L-F-O High School. He had walked along Boynton Drive and then cut through a trail underneath some power lines.
Buses are parked here and a key had been hidden on bus #77 for a substitute driver.
On the bus, Collins uses his seat belt, stays under the speed limit and drives safely. He returns the bus to another school, Chattanooga Valley Elementary, in adjoining Walker County.
Once he parks the bus, the video shows him stepping off and then stepping back up to make sure he had left nothing behind.
He told the investigator he continued his walk to his grandmother's home.
And after making this wrong turn in his young life, Detective Leamon said Collins is now taking the right steps. "The fact that he was honest, forthcoming whenever I questioned him. He wasn't aggressive at all and you know we communicated very well."
But Collins still faces a felony charge of theft by taking a motor vehicle. In this case, the bus is valued at $40,000. He remains in jail on a $5,000 bond.