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Family of Alleged School Bus Thief Talks About His Mental Health Issues

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Police say 25-year-old Josiah Daniel Curtis of Kentwood stole a school bus used by the William C Abney Academy from a lot in Wyoming and drove it down I 94 to Detroit on Thanksgiving.

His parents say Josiah suffers from a number of mental health issues and had been talking about going to the Detroit area to share his music with the world. However, Josiah didn’t have a driver’s license. His parents said he had not renewed it and,they never imagined he would steal a bus to get there.

“Josiah put some type of music together and he wanted to share that with the radio station. With his bi-polar disorder and mild psychosis, he believes things that are really far-fetched,” says Dale Curtis, Josiah’s father.

Authorities say at some point on Thanksgiving, Josiah climbed the fences that surround the lot where the buses are kept on the 3700 block of Jefferson NE and stole a bus used by William C Abney Academy in Grand Rapids. Police say Josiah found where the keys were hidden inside each of the buses.

“He honestly believed this radio station would deliver the message he had and he would be a significant help to other people with this message. So, he was convinced that this was what he was supposed to do,” said Curtis.

Police say Josiah crashed three or four buses while trying to break out of the fence surrounding the bus lot. Witnesses who saw the aftermath say they discovered a bus stuck by a loading dock at a nearby business. One bus had crashed into a pile of metal at a nearby building, ripping off the bus mirror and pushing debris through the building, creating a hole. Yet another bus was stuck on a dirt mound near the fence in the back of the lot and finally, at least one bus made it through the fence and out into the street through the parking area of another business.

Police say Josiah was pulled over by a deputy in Washtenaw County for driving erratically and speeding on Thanksgiving. Investigators say it was obvious something was wrong.

“Probably the only school bus speeding down I -94 on Thanksgiving when every school was closed,” says Sergeant Stan Lis of the Combined Auto Theft Unit in Grand Rapids.

Josiah’s parents say he didn’t know how to drive a bus and were surprised he made it to Washtenaw County. They are glad nobody was hurt. Although Josiah has a mental health support team within the city, his parents say they cannot force him to take his medications unless there is a court order. Dale and Diane say they wish they could do more. Dale says he had Josiah arrested for breaking into his home on November, 1st and hoped that would help him get the treatment he needed.

“When Josiah broke into my house recently, I talked to the officer. He expressed how he was concerned for Josiah,” says Dale.

However, Dale says he was told those charges weren’t serious enough to get Josiah long-term court ordered assistance. He was in the hospital and medicated for a few days, getting out about five days before he allegedly stole the buses.

Josiah’s parents are urging the legal system to change in order to help people like Josiah. They say more needs to be done to make sure people are taking their medications in certain cases.

“The legal system needs to set some type of precedent that a person’s autonomy has to be removed more significantly for the protection of the rest of society, for other people’s rights their convenience or property. That decision has to be made,” says Dale.

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  • Carrie

    Such a sad situation but hopefully Washtenaw County(JPORT) can provide him the mental health treatment he needs. His parents sound like they've done all they know to do & working in the mental health field I know they are not alone. Hopefully he can see a Psychiatrist in the jail & something can come of this situation.

  • taken back

    this truely is sad, I went to school with this person a good portion of my life. i think something deeper lies beneath his "mental condition" he was a bright young man in prior yrs. i hope he gets the help he needs and deserves and best wishes to him in getting better.

  • TerribleGroove

    I personally know Josiah. He's not as crazy as he appears. He is a brilliant, smart young man who seems to have been pushed to the limits by his parents. Instead of doubting his goals in life, they should have encouraged him to reach his dreams. I've never met his dad, but he seems like a flake in this video. Who puts their own kid in jail for coming home? His mother looks too scared to say anything. I wonder what kind of abuse she endures, too.

    • brec8808

      You don't understand what they are going through. You can't really understand another person's experience until you've walked a mile in their shoes. If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all. I know this family.

  • Birdieman

    This is a sad situation, people who have not had to deal with mental illness in their families have NO idea what it is like, shallow comments attacking the parents made by people who admit to not knowing them are totally uncalled for. I know the entire family, everyone in this kind of situation is "pushed to the limits," why is our society so prone to lay blame elsewhere? The young man is the one who needs help and who needs to be taking his meds before another incident endangers himself and the general population.

  • Cinco

    Many, many people with mental health conditions are brilliant, as well as deeply caring and responsible, among other positive attributes. Support and medication can help so that those traits are the ones that are noticed, and not the behaviors caused by the mental illness. Parents do not cause mental illness. In my opinion the mother in this video looks pained, not scared. It is a lot of responsibility for parents who feel the burden of harm caused by their children.

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