An Oakdale Joint Unified School District bus filled with over 45 students of the Oakdale High School track team had its journey to Lathrop interrupted by a stop from the California Highway Patrol due to possible distress and a welfare check of its occupants.
According to CHP officials, a 911 call via a driver on a cell phone was received at 2:19 in the afternoon on Thursday, April 16.
Records show the caller was following OJUSD bus 19 on Highway 120 near Jack Tone Road in Escalon and reported seeing a handwritten sign which read “Help Us” taped to its back window.
A short time later, two CHP units located the bus as it was on westbound 120 approaching the I-5 interchange and made a traffic stop to ascertain the welfare of the occupants.
The CHP representative did not know if the sign was still posted at the time of the stop.
Officers contacted the school bus driver who relayed that students had mounted the sign as a prank and he had instructed them to take it down. Unbeknownst to the driver, the sign was put back up by a member of the team.
“The units determined all was okay and warned the students,” a CHP dispatcher said.
Oakdale High School Athletic Director David Bacigalupi stated that he was made aware of the incident and that the involved student was disciplined by the school.
“Somebody saw it I guess and thought it wasn’t funny,” Bacigalupi said. “The student admitted it when confronted by police.”
According to sources with the team, the student was a 15-year-old sophomore.
After the stop, the bus was allowed to continue to its meet at Lathrop High School.