Safety

School Bus Driver Arrested After Crashing Into Ditch

Nicole Schlosser
Posted on November 14, 2019

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include information provided on Nov. 22, about one week after the crash, stating that drug screens conducted on the school bus driver, Jonathan Gates, who was involved in the Nov. 13 crash, turned out to be negative for controlled substances.

GASTON, Ore. — A school bus driver here was arrested for driving while allegedly impaired on Wednesday morning after he veered off the road and crashed into a ditch, police said.

Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to a crash involving a school bus and found it in a ditch with 12 passengers on board, according to a news release from the Sheriff’s Office. In addition to Jonathan Gates, the 20-year-old driver, a school bus aide and 10 Forest Grove School District students ranging in age from 10 to 16 were also aboard the bus.

No one was injured in the incident. However, one of the students told FOX News that students were thrown out of their seats during the crash. The news source also obtained video, apparently from the school bus and provided by the Sheriff's Office, of the moments leading up to the crash.

Forest Grove School District posted on its website that the crash occurred at about 8:13 a.m. and that there were no other vehicles involved. David Warner, a spokesperson for the school district, told School Bus Fleet that there were no seat belts on the bus.

The crash occurred about 35 miles west of Portland.

Deputies arrested Gates for allegedly driving under the influence of intoxicants. He was taken to the Washington County Jail where he cooperated with investigators and was later issued a citation in lieu of custody and released, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Brock Dittus, team lead of pupil transportation at the Oregon Department of Education, told School Bus Fleet on Nov. 22 that the drug screens conducted by the Sheriff's Office and Mid Columbia Bus Co. turned out to be negative.

“The crash, which was nonetheless disastrous, has not been proven as due to any impairment by controlled substances," Dittus said. "The bus company conducted an independent drug screen from the Sheriff’s department, and states that neither test returned positive.”

Officials told FOX News that Gates was also charged with reckless driving and 11 counts of reckless endangering.

A spokesperson from the school district told the news source that the crash occurred on Gates’s third day on the job, and that no complaints were reported after he was hired by Mid Columbia Bus Co. in October. The spokesperson added that Gates will take a mandatory drug test and be placed on administrative leave during the investigation in accordance with district procedure.

The Sheriff’s Office posted on its Facebook page surveillance video it obtained of the crash from an area resident, showing the bus veering off the road and into the ditch. View that footage below.

Related Topics: impaired driving, Oregon, school bus crash

Nicole Schlosser Executive Editor
Comments ( 3 )
  • Rob Odermann

     | about 23 days ago

    The driver needs to be fired and lose his CDL. He should never be allowed to transport children. Our transportation policy states that one DUI is automatic grounds for dismissal.

  • See all comments
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