Carter County

TCAT students work to clean up vandalized buses

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. - Crews continue fix fix vandalized buses in Elizabethton after police say someone poured sugar in the fuel systems and slashed tires.

Elizabethton High students were left scrambling to find a way to school on Monday.

Here are the latest numbers from the school district's transportation director -- 14 buses had sugar in gas tanks; three of those buses were new. Nine buses had tires slashed.

When sugar is applied to a fuel system, it literally gums up the works -- it clogs fuel injectors, fouls fuel lines, and prevents the engine from running.

But sugar dissolves slowly in fuel, so you can limit the damage if you begin the repairs immediately.

Paul Linburg teaches auto mechanics at Elizabethton High School, and is leading up the repair effort. "We take a Shop-vac, clean it out as much as we can. We drain the tanks, clean the fuel system and change the fuel filters," he explained.

Because the repair process is so slow and methodical, seven students from the Tennessee College of Applied Technology joined the effort Tuesday morning.

TCAT student Jacob Ensor wants to a be a diesel mechanic one day, and appreciates the chance to get some on-the-job training. "It gives you a little experience lets you know what you are getting into, whether you are cut out for the job or not," he told us.

So far, five buses have been cleaned, inspected and made road-ready, but there is still plenty of work to do. Ensor says it's a step-by-step
process- "We're cleaning lines, flushing the fuel system, putting fuel back in and making sure it runs," he said.

Linburg says the process is different for every bus, depending on how much sugar poisoned the system. "It just takes more time than some people realize," he said, "the process of getting the fuel out and everything inspected as we do it."

Linburg says his crews are working around the clock to get the buses back on the road.

The director of transportation for Elizabethton schools, John Hutchins, tells us all buses should be repaired by Wednesday evening.

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