Police: School bus driver drank vodka while driving students

MEDINA, Ohio — A school bus driver in Ohio is facing charges and was fired after police said he drove students while drunk.

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The Medina Police Department said in a news release that Herbert Ferguson was arrested on Nov. 30 after a random alcohol test administered after his morning bus route revealed he was drunk.

“I was shocked. This is my 35th year in this business and this is a first for me,” Rob Travis, the district’s transportation manager, told WJW.

The district superintendent, Aaron Sable, said the students on the bus ranged from elementary age through high school.

“This more than concerns me, this upsets me, this angers me,” Sable told WKYC. “All of our employees in our district, our educators and professionals, we have high expectations for everybody that’s working with our students in the district. Our employees have high expectations for each other. So when there’s a failure of this magnitude, it’s extremely disappointing. It take it personally hard, and very seriously.”

Medina police told WOIO that Ferguson was not only drunk while driving the students, but that he also was drinking vodka out of a sports drink bottle while operating the bus.

Video from inside the bus obtained by WKYC appears to show Ferguson holding the plastic bottle.

Despite failing the tests, officials said there was no other sign that Ferguson was drunk.

“Our interactions with him in the morning when he comes in, picks up his keys, interacts with the dispatcher, there was no indications that there was anything wrong,” Travis told WJW. “Went and performed his run and did everything he was supposed to do, came back and was pulled for random testing and I think it became very shocking, very quickly that he was intoxicated.”

“My biggest question is why was he tested after the route?” a parent in the district asked WOIO. “I think that’s the reason why so many parents are upset, because if they would’ve tested him before and found out then maybe it wouldn’t — obviously it’s a big deal but maybe it wouldn’t have hit so hard. But the fact that he drove all of them and tested, that’s pretty hard to hear.”

“We perform random drug testing of our drivers on a quarterly basis,” Sable explained to WJW. “It’s actually part of the requirements by the Department of Transportation. Quite honestly, it’s something we would do even if it wasn’t a requirement.”

Travis told WKYC that the district is considering monthly, rather than quarterly, random alcohol checks to try to make sure this does not happen again.

Court records obtained by WOIO revealed Ferguson was previously arrested for operating a vehicle while impaired in 1987. Travis told the station that a citation that old would not prevent an applicant from getting a commercial driver’s license.

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