UPDATE: On Thursday, June 13, 2019, the Edmonton Police Service said the school bus driver was charged with impaired operation of a motor vehicle, impaired operation of a motor vehicle (over 80mg per 100ml of blood), child endangerment and causing a child to be in need of intervention. Police did not disclose the name of the accused.
Charges related to impaired driving and child endangerment are pending against a 39-year-old woman who was reportedly driving a school bus “erratically” in west Edmonton on Tuesday, police said.
The Golden Arrow bus company told Global News on Wednesday that the bus driver had been suspended. The company said it is working with the Edmonton Police Service. EPS said Wednesday the woman “is facing a 90-day licence suspension” and had been released on a promise to appear.
Golden Arrow said alcohol is being investigated as a cause and the company has a zero tolerance policy for alcohol use.
In an email Tuesday, police said someone reported seeing the bus near Glastonbury Boulevard and Granville Link on Tuesday afternoon.
“It was reported that the bus driver had been observed driving over a curb, knocking over a street sign, stopping in the middle of the road and weaving in and out of the lane,” a police spokesperson said in an email.
“At 3:41 p.m., police stopped the bus in the area of Hemingway Road and 57 Avenue.
Police said there were about 20 elementary school-aged children on the bus. None of the kids were injured and another bus was sent to pick them up and bring them home.
The driver of the first bus was arrested. While police said charges are pending, they did not reveal what offence(s) they expect to charge the driver with.
Jasen Courtepatte said he was on the road when the bus caught his attention and he called police.
“A bus doesn’t normally hop a curb and take out a sign and keep going,” he told Global News. “So something was up.”
Courtepatte said he was driving west on Callingwood Road when he spotted the bus.
“It looked like it was going to turn left over here at the lights but there was no way to turn left,” he said. “So I thought maybe it was doing a u-turn but it was going too fast to do a u-turn… it went up on the curb and took out that sign over there and didn’t stop — just kept going.
Courtepatte said he followed the bus through residential streets in The Hamptons as the bus was being driven “erratically.”
“At the end of the day, the toughest part is seeing all these little kids get off the bus. They called in another bus and it’s heartwrenching to see all these little kids, who are innocent, not know what was going on… it was tough.”
Golden Arrow said the bus driver has been working with the company since October 2018 and has no other incidents on her record.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Edmonton Public Schools said it was made aware Tuesday that a school bus driver had been arrested after reports of erratic driving.
“The bus was transporting 20 Kim Hung School students at the time. A relief bus was brought in to transport students safely home and parents were informed,” EPSD spokesperson Carrie Rosa said.
“Safety is our top priority, both at school and on the bus. We will continue to work with Edmonton Police Service and Golden Arrow as the investigation continues.”
The 39-year-old bus driver, whose name has not been released, is scheduled to appear in court next on July 24.
— with files from Global’s Emily Mertz