GATES, N.Y. (NewsNation Now) — A school bus driver in Gates, New York faces multiple criminal charges after allegedly driving drunk with students onboard.
“Unusual activity and an unauthorized stop” Friday morning prompted school officials to contact police to investigate, according to a news release from the Gates-Chili Central School District.
It was then determined that the bus driver was operating the vehicle with a blood alcohol level over the New York state legal limit. The driver was identified as Lashonda Griffin.
There were six students on the bus, according to district officials. They say Griffin will be charged with five counts of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol with a person under the age of 16 in the vehicle.
Lt. Robert Long from Gates Police Department said he found Griffin unresponsive in the bus garage passed out behind the wheel. At that point there were no students on the bus, police said. Lt. Long says this was a first for him in his 18 years on the force.
“Behind the wheel in general — when you’re drinking, that vehicle that you’re behind becomes a missile, a potential death trap,” Lt. Long said. “Many things can happen; you can kill somebody else, kill yourself, kill innocent bystanders. In this case operating a school bus with children onboard brings it to a whole new level.”
Officials say the driver will likely faces additional charges.
A statement from the school district said in part:
The safety of students and employees is the district’s top priority, and we are very grateful that no one was harmed as a result of this individual’s actions. The families of the students who were on the bus have already been notified. As a result, if you have not been notified, then it was not your child’s bus or bus driver involved in this situation.
We are very sorry that these students and families in this community have been impacted by the unfathomable actions of one person. Please remember this was an act of one employee. The district is proud of its bus drivers and their safety record of transporting thousands of students each day without incident. Out of an abundance of caution, the district is taking time to review safety protocols with all drivers.Gates-Chili Central School District
The school district officials thanked the Gates Police Department for their swift action in apprehending the driver.