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WHAM) – A school bus driver with the Gates Chili School District was arrested Friday morning after school officials said she was driving drunk with multiple students onboard.
District officials notified families Friday about the arrest and events leading up to it.
According to the district, school officials called Gates Police after reports of an unauthorized bus stop at the McDonald’s restaurant on Chili and Brooks Avenue. The driver – 29-year-old Lashonda Griffin – allegedly took two children into the restaurant with her. After investigating, police found Griffin incapacitated at the Gates Chili bus depot.
Griffin had a BAC above the legal limit of 0.08 percent, according to police. There were six students on the bus at the time – ranging in age from 5 to 16.
Griffin will be charged with four counts of felony DWI under Leandra’s Law, six counts of endangering the welfare of a child, along with several other violations.
Lorie Reese, whose stepson was on the bus, says this raises questions about other times the driver has been late.
“To stand there for 30 minutes waiting for your bus driver who is drunk at McDonald’s getting breakfast, is so unbelievable,” said Reese.
District officials said they cannot comment directly on personnel matters, but called the incident “an egregious violation” of its policies that will never be tolerated.
“We were definitely very lucky in this situation that all of the children were delivered to school from home safely and that the driver had returned back to the bus garage,” said Lt. Robert Long with the Gates Police Department. “At which point we intercepted her prior to any other bus routes or any other students or people being on that bus or any lives in jeopardy.”
Griffin was employed with the district on a probationary period.
“We are very sorry that these students and families in this community have been impacted by the unfathomable actions of one person. Please remember this was an act of one employee,” the district said in an email.
Griffin was issued an appearance ticket.
Nicholas Beauchene was charged with one count of delay, secretion or detention of mail and one count of obstruction of mail. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the delay charge and up to six months in prison and a $6,000 fine for obstruction.
Mail-in voting is under intense scrutiny this year, with more Americans casting their ballots by mail because of coronavirus concerns. President Trump has repeatedly alleged that mail-in voting will lead to widespread voter fraud, despite there being no evidence to support the claim.
The White House highlighted a handful of discarded ballots in Pennsylvania in September, but Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar (D) said there was no “intentional fraud” involved.