Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Restitution For Bus Crash In Davidsonville
A Crownsville man who stole a school bus, crashed it and tried to set it on fire has been ordered to pay more than $230,000 in restitution.
Anne Arundel Circuit Court Judge Paul A. Hackner on Wednesday ordered 24-year-old Travis Champagne to pay nearly $179,000 to Baltimore Gas and Electric for damages caused when the stolen bus crashed into a BGE tower.
Last month, Champagne was sentenced to a year behind bars and ordered to pay more than $51,300 in restitution for damages to the special needs bus after he pleaded guilty to second-degree arson and second-degree burglary. He also was given five years of probation.
Wednesday's court order was in addition to the previous judgments against Champagne.
Defense attorney T. Joseph Touhey said the chance of Champagne being able to pay all of the restitution is "remote to zero." Payment amounts will be determined based on Champagne's ability to pay, Hackner said.
Champagne was one of two people arrested for the theft of a special needs bus from a Crownsville bus lot during the early morning hours of Oct. 7, 2014.
Nicole Jo Ann Adams, 24, of Davidsonville, pleaded guilty last month to second-degree burglary and theft between $10,000 and $100,000 for her role in the incident. Her sentencing is scheduled for April 8.
Champagne and Adams were shown on surveillance video entering the lot on Generals Highway shortly before 3:20 a.m.
Police said the couple appeared to have been under the influence of alcohol and were looking for change to purchase cigarettes.
The couple ransacked six buses and a storage office, police said, and stole a case of Budweiser from a refrigerator in the office.
The office and the lot are owned by a gas station and auto body shop that sits next to the property. The county leases the lot to store its buses, schools spokesman Bob Mosier said at the time.
Police said Champagne and Adams then found the keys to bus No. 874 in the glove box, started the bus and rammed it through alocked gate. A GPS tracking device on the bus had been removed, according to court records.
A bus driver arrived around two hours later to find the smashed gate. The bus was discovered missing a short time later.
The school system and police sent out notices that morning that told parents not to let their children get on the bus if it arrived at bus stops.
Court documents state that while Champagne and Adams had control of the bus, Champagne used the radio dispatch system to unleash a string of obscenities and a racial epithet to describe the person who left the keys in the glove box, saying that person "should be fired."
"This is piece of (expletive) don't work no more," Champagne said at one point, according to court documents. "You can have it back. I'm out."
The bus was found at 9 a.m., crashed in the woods at the intersection of Governor Bridge Road and Strawberry Run in Davidsonville.
A citizen told police a man and a woman were seen walking on Governor Bridge Road earlier that morning. They then got into a dark sedan and drove away.
Police found the pair at a home in the 700 block of Governor Bridge Road at 11:15 a.m. They were taken into custody without incident.
The bus, purchased in 2013 for $106,000, sustained extensive damage, including heavy creases in the roof, broken windows and other body and engine damage. The entrance door was removed and sustained other damage, Mosier said.
The couple used a road flare in an attempt to set the bus on fire, court records state.
Prior to crashing into the woods, the bus also struck a BGE tower, police said, causing extensive damage.
Champagne said little during his restitution hearing Wednesday.