SPARTA, Georgia — A drunken Georgia man set a bus driver’s hair on fire and then hijacked the vehicle and led police on a high-speed chase after being told to stop smoking on the bus, cops said.
Michael Douglas Freeman, 63, was on the Putnam Transit bus on Friday afternoon heading into Eatonton to buy milk when he lit up a cigarette, the Putnam County Sheriff’s office said.
When told by the driver and another passenger to put the cigarette out, police say Freeman “took exception” and snatched the keys when the driver pulled over and used his lighter to set her hair on fire, the Macon Telegraph reported.
The driver, Linda Grandt, 56, managed to swat the flames out and then hopped off the bus with the other passenger. Freeman then threw her purse out the window and took off with the bus.
Grandt called 911, and police were soon giving chase, but Freeman kept going at ever increasing speeds. At one point he drove over a strip of spikes which flattened a tire, but he continued on, hitting speeds of up to 95 miles per hour and, at points, driving on the wrong side of the highway cops said.
Eventually, a deputy managed to ram Freeman off the road as he pulled into central Sparta. As deputies surrounded the vehicle, Freeman refused to come out and tried to bite paramedics as they pulled him from the bus.
Freeman was jailed on charges that include battery, aggravated assault, eluding police and drunken driving.
“This will be his seventh DUI,” Sheriff Howard Sills said.