A 48-year-old bus driver for Longview Public Schools was arrested last week after a student reported the driver appeared to be intoxicated and had run several red lights, police said.
The driver was booked into the Cowlitz County Jail on investigation of impaired driving and two counts of reckless endangerment, Longview Police wrote in a Facebook post.
Police said additional charges could follow.
The woman was arrested after a student got off the bus on Sept. 12 and told his mother about the driver. Because English is not the mother’s first language, she asked the child to call police, according to KGW 8 News.
The boy told the 911 dispatcher, “She was drunk. Like, passed three red lights and got on the side road by the 76 and there’s still kids on there,” the station reported.
Police said that when they contacted the driver, they “smelled an obvious odor of intoxicants.”
No children were on the bus at the time of the arrest, police said. The woman had recently completed two afternoon bus routes, one with high-schoolers and one with grade-schoolers, totaling about 90 students, the station reported.
Police said they are working closely with Longview Public Schools, which is also investigating the incident. The driver could be fired, the district said.
Superintendent Dan Zorn told the station the woman had no history of similar incidents.
“First of all, I want to tell our parents I’m sorry, and as a system, this should not have happened. And, unfortunately, we had an individual make an incredibly irresponsible choice who is responsible for our kids,” Zorn said. “But I also hope [parents] take out of this that we’re taking action. We’re taking it very seriously and doing everything we can to assure it does not happen.”
He also told KGW that the district has implemented changes in reaction to this that involve more concerted, frequent and intentional face-to-face interaction between dispatchers, managers and drivers before drivers pick up their bus keys in both the morning and afternoon.