WEST FARGO, N.D. — Last Wednesday, Steven Sauer, a school bus driver for Valley Bus Services who had been hired less than a week earlier, drove into a snow bank while on route to pick up elementary school students.
Sauer was arrested on suspicion of DUI and has since been fired.
Valley Bus Services operates 12 routes for West Fargo Public Schools. Following the incident last week, district officials said that a review of the process used in hiring Sauer indicated that all procedures were followed.
Procedures include compliance with Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, including pre-employment, random, post-accident, and reasonable suspicion drug and alcohol testing; background checks performed to standards comparable with the background check procedures performed by the district on its own prospective employees; and a check of the driver’s record from the North Dakota DOT.
Valley Bus personnel indicated that several people interacted with Sauer just prior to his departure on his route, and no one noticed any unusual behavior or signs of impairment.
Mike Reitan, the assistant chief for the West Fargo Police Department, told Park Rapids Enterprise that he could not reveal the result of a Breathalyzer test taken by Sauer on Wednesday. Sauer’s official blood-alcohol concentration won’t be known until test results return from a state lab this week or next week.
Valley Bus Services Route Manager Roger Peterson told the newspaper that in addition to firing Sauer, the company is considering installing Breathalyzers on its buses to help prevent similar incidents. The devices won’t allow a bus to be started if the driver is intoxicated.
On Friday, Sauer's family bailed him out of jail, where he'd been since the arrest, and he's now fighting the charge against him, Valley News Live reports.
Until the results of Sauer's blood-alcohol test come from the state lab, his attorney told the news source that they're looking into other explanations for the incident, such as Sauer having suffered some sort of medical condition at the time of the crash.