The superintendent of the Alfred-Almond Central School District said this morning there was no indication that a bus driver was intoxicated before she drove despite contact with “transportation personnel” and others before she left on her run.
Amity-based state police charged, Martha A. Thompson, 55, of 5 Maple Ridge, Almond Friday afternoon with driving while intoxicated and 15 counts of endangering the welfare of a child and second-degree reckless endangerment after she was stopped by Alfred police on Glen Street in the Town of Alfred after reports from students and a resident that she was intoxicated.
Allegany County District Attorney Terry Parker said Thompson was stopped in Alfred on her way back to the A-A bus garage.
“It would be a hard thing for a non-trained person to pick up on,” said Rich Nicol of Thompson’s condition at the school before she got behind the wheel.
“School personnel met with Martha before she drove and there was no indication that she was under the influence,” he said.
Nicol said there is no “formal pre-trip meeting” for bus drivers, but that they all gather in a small, central location before they set out.
Nicol also dispelled rumors that Brian Burdick, A-A bus garage supervisor, had notification that Thompson was drinking at a bar before she reported to the school.
“Brian, to my knowledge, never received any complaints from the local bar here,” he said.
According to troopers, some of the students observed Thompson driving the bus erratically and when the bus stopped on South Road in the Town of West Almond the older students opened the rear emergency door and began exiting the bus. A witness observed what was happening, gathered the students at the scene and called the police because she believed the bus driver was impaired.
Thompson was taken to St. James Mercy Hospital in Hornell to submit to a blood alcohol content test. Test results are expected back in four to six weeks.
Nicol said the school district will decide whether or not she will be on paid or unpaid leave today and that she had worked for the district for about five years.
Troopers said the students on the bus ranged in 5 to 15 years of age and none were hurt during the incident.
Some students were picked up by parents at the scene, others were brought home by another bus.