Fifteen students on the Manatee County school bus complained of mild respiratory irritation after the spray was discharged

By Joelle Goldstein
December 12, 2019 06:34 PM

One middle school student in Florida recently took his personal hygiene to the extreme when he stopped a school bus due to the overpowering scent of his Axe Body Spray.

On Monday, the Parrish Fire Department and Manatee County EMS responded to a “hazardous materials incident” onboard a local school bus after several students complained of a strong odor, according to a statement from the PFD.

Once the bus driver pulled over and called for help, PFD and MCEMS crews arrived at the scene and discovered that 15 students — half the number of kids on the bus — were suffering from a mild respiratory irritation.

The students who complained of respiratory irritations were treated by first responders, while a second bus was dispatched to pick up the other riders. They were transported to a limited access lot at the high school, where they could be picked up by their parents, the local fire department said.

“All 30 students on the bus were accounted for and treated and released with refusals to be transported by EMS,” the PFD spokesperson added.

First responders on the scene

While on the scene, Parrish Fire District Division Chief Mike Williamson told Today that he interviewed all 30 students from Buffalo Creek Middle School who were aboard the bus to determine who set off the pungent smell, but nobody would admit to it.

“We had heard reports from other community members that it's somehow a thing with kids spraying it all over each other to smell nice or prank each other,” he explained to the outlet. “They must have watched a lot of episodes of Band of Brothers because they would not say who did it.”

Despite not having an upfront confession, it wasn't hard for Williamson to determine who was behind the smell, as he quickly came across a student who had an overwhelming scent of Axe permeating from his body into the air.

“Once I got down the line, I was able to determine it,” Williamson explained to the outlet. “Before I could even tell [the student] what I was looking for, I made a motion like I was spraying, and he handed me an empty bottle of the black Axe Body Spray. I could smell it all over him.”

The scene from the incident and an Axe Body Spray can
| Credit: Parrish Fire Rescue/Axe

The discovery was a first for Williamson, too, who told Today in his 33 years of working as the fire chief, he'd never experienced an evacuation likely caused by Axe Body Spray.

“I never say I've seen it all because the minute I say that, something else has to top it,” he joked.

An investigation of the incident determined that the windows were closed and the air-conditioning was on during the bus ride, School District of Manatee County spokesperson Mike Barber confirmed to Today.

Other than the Axe can, fire officials did not discover any other chemicals or liquids that may have caused the smell, according to the outlet.

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At this time, the PFD spokesperson said the incident was being ruled a prank “as a deodorant / aerosol body spray was discharged on the bus.”

Still, Williamson commended his staff, as well as the school board, for jumping into action and ensuring that no one was injured or harmed in the process.

“This was a very good total collaboration of an emergency response between the fire department, EMS, the sheriff's office and the school board,” Williamson told Today. “It was a good test. We take everything as a serious threat because we can't afford not to.”

The PFD said the incident remains an ongoing investigation and officials will be reviewing bus cameras, as well as conducting additional interviews, in the coming weeks.