INDIAN ORCHARD, Mass. (WWLP) – In Indian Orchard, 64 vehicle tires have been slashed Sunday night at the transportation company, Youth On The Move. They serve about 100 people daily.
“I just can’t understand why. Why? This is senseless.” Youth On the Move Owner, Janice Brown told 22News a staff member who came out Monday morning at 4:00 a.m. to check a handicapped-accessible vehicle and realized the front tires were slashed, which had been the same for the entire company.
Brown says they were already struggling during the pandemic, “it just doesn’t make sense. We’re trying to provide a device. I have staff. I have people that count on me every day.”
This company serves people who need special care, people with autism, and people on dialysis. Brown says she doesn’t know what’s next.
“People need their transportation. They need to get to methadone, they have doctor’s appointments, and they have dialysis. We have children that go to autism awareness group,” said Brown.
“A lot of cars were either leaning towards one side or the other, indicating that there was some type of slash or air taken out of the tire,” said Manager Malcolm Gladden.
“I have a wheelchair route. Three people with intellectual disabilities, I bring them to their day program in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon,” said Daniel Panagos, a Youth on the Move driver.
The company tells 22News they’re hoping to salvage enough working tires to get back on the road soon. This appears to be an isolated incident, no reports or similar situations in the area at this time. Springfield Police are investigating.
22News spoke with the owner about how they’re dealing with this vandalism.
Brown told 22News no services were provided this morning because of this incident, but she added that they’ve been moving quickly, thanks to the help of the community, and they have been towing the vans all day to bring them to be repaired-and services will be up and running by tomorrow.
“My babies didn’t get picked up today, I love my autism awareness group. They are like my kids. To say to their parents I can’t come to get them today because I have no way of getting them, they were scrambling,” said Brown.
And across Springfield…the transportation manager at Giggle Gardens, worried he would find his vehicle’s tires slashed as well. The manager told 22News they’ve already experienced catalytic converter theft twice this year.
“The first reaction for me is let me go check my buses. It’s sad that people are going around doing stuff like that to school buses? That’s just ridiculous. Just going around slashing tires and stealing catalytic converters, like actually makes it harder for businesses to run,” said Richard David, Transportation Manager at Giggle Gardens.
Brown says she is thankful for the community stepping up quickly to help her get the cars back up and running for tomorrow.
“My babies! I’m gonna be there for you tomorrow. So Miss Janice is gonna be there!” Brown said.
Springfield Police spokesperson Ryan Walsh told 22News that police will be paying special attention to the area.