RED DEER, Alberta — A school bus driver here was allegedly under the influence of alcohol when she hit two fixed objects while transporting students, authorities said.
The incident occurred on the afternoon of June 5. A witness called 911 after the school bus hit a tree and a sign, then continued to drive for a short distance before stopping, according to the Red Deer Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
The school bus was transporting 18 elementary students ranging in age from 5 to 12. The bus is operated by Prairie Bus Lines under contract with Red Deer Public Schools, and the driver is an employee of the company.
Police, EMS, and fire staff responded to the scene at 4 p.m. EMS staff assessed the driver and the children who were on the bus and determined that no one had been injured in the crash.
After the incident, Prairie dispatched another bus to transport students home.
Red Deer RCMP initiated an impaired driving investigation at the scene and continued into the evening. The investigation resulted in four criminal charges against the school bus driver.
Shelly Joy Kolodychuk, 42, of Red Deer faces charges of impaired operation of a motor vehicle, operating a motor vehicle over 80 mg (the blood alcohol limit), dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, and failure to remain at the scene of a collision.
Red Deer Public Schools and Prairie Bus Lines issued statements after the crash, which the district called “an unfortunate and isolated incident.”
“We are deeply concerned and shocked by this incident,” school district Superintendent Stu Henry said. “Adults who serve our students carry a significant responsibility for their safety and care. It is devastating when an adult betrays the trust we have with our students and parents.”
The morning after the crash, the students’ principal and Prairie’s operations manager rode the bus "to ensure the children and parents felt safe and secure," according to Prairie.
“The Prairie Bus Lines family is devastated by what has happened and are deeply saddened at the thought of the possible worst case scenario,” the contractor said. “We are fully aware of the communication surrounding this incident and take everyone’s concern and anger very seriously.”
Red Deer Public Schools said that both the district and Prairie “will take every step" to ensure that student transportation services are safe.
The contractor said that it was conducting a thorough investigation and reviewing policies and procedures “to determine what we could have done better so that this does not happen again.”
Meanwhile, Kolodychuk is scheduled to appear in court on July 12.