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VICTIMS MAY FOOT THE BILLS FOR TEEN'S SPREE

Lonnie Whytock never met Justin Allgood, but his life is directly affected by the teenager who hijacked a school bus and then shot himself earlier this week.

Whytock and his 3-year-old daughter were stopped at the intersection of 7000 S. 2200 West Tuesday morning when he was hit by the bus as Allgood tried to outrun police. Allgood, 15, commandeered the bus by shooting driver Sula Bearden in the leg and then stealing the bus.Just who pays for financial damage done during a criminal act? In this case, unless the courts decide otherwise, it appears the victims will be paying for the costs.

Initial estimates put the damage done by Allgood at more than $220,000.

"We've been notified (by State Risk Management) that the district is not liable," said spokeswoman Patty Dahl. "It's difficult to say it was our fault that the bus got stolen, when it was stolen at the point of a gun."

Whytock said his car, which was paid for and only insured for liability, is probably totaled. His loss, between $2,000 to $3,000, is seemingly small when compared with that of Richard and Connie Johnson.

It was their home that the bus plowed into at the end of the chase. Damage to their house is estimated at $200,000. The cost of fixing the bus Allgood stole and wrecked is about $20,000.

At least two other cars were damaged during the chase, but estimates weren't available for those.

In addition to property damage, there are medical costs - for which there are no estimates yet.

Richard Johnson was injured when he came out of his house after the crash holding a handgun. Deputies didn't know who he was and he was forcibly taken to the ground. He was treated at a local hospital for a shoulder injury.

Bearden underwent surgery for the gunshot wound to her thigh.

Dahl said those individuals who've asked the district about liability have been told to work through their own insurance companies.

"The bus driver was on the job at the time, so workman's compensation will pay for that," Dahl said. The district, which is self-insured, will also pay to fix the school bus.

Allgood's family could be liable for the damage under Utah law, but only if it doesn't exceed $2,000. That is something a victim can pursue in civil court.

The law says parents are not liable for damages if they've made reasonable efforts to supervise the child.

"You could go after the family, but they've already been through enough and I'm not going to put them through that," Whytock said.