A school bus driver with dozens of students on board was arrested this week on suspicion of driving under the influence in Stanislaus County, KTLA sister station KTXL in Sacramento reported Wednesday.
According to the California Highway Patrol, 55-year-old Karolyn Denise Ray was under the influence of a controlled substance while she was behind the wheel on Monday. The CHP would not elaborate further.
But the parents at several of the schools where the kids were heading were horrified to hear what had happened.
“It’s shocking. I don’t know what’s going through these people’s minds,” David Virgen, who has two nephews who attend Bonita Elementary School in Crows Landing, told KTXL. “Not just my nephews, though. Every kid, every kid’s parents. I have my own kids, they used to go to school here and I hope that never happened to us.”
CHP estimated between 40 and 50 students, from kindergarten to 5th grade, were on the bus when it was stopped.
Officials said it was one of those children who called 911 to report Ray’s driving through the Diablo Grande neighborhood.
“We are relieved that the child knew who to call in an emergency situation, so I consider this kid a hero,” CHP Officer Thomas Olsen said.
Ray was charged with DUI and child endangerment, according to KTXL. CHP won't know what type of substance they believe Ray was under the influence of until tests results come back.
“A chemical test was taken. Those samples will be forwarded to the Department of Justice for further analysis,” Officer Olsen said.
The Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District said Ray works as a subcontractor for First Student Transportation. That company declined to comment on her arrest.
“Something could have happened, it could have wrecked, killed all the kids,” Virgen said. “She should be banned for life for having anything to do with kids, especially the school.”
It’s unclear whether Ray will lose her job or not, but the NCLUSD Superintendent Randy Fillpop said he never wants her to drive for his students ever again.