Oregon school bus crashes, driver arrested
FOREST GROVE, Ore. (AP) — A school bus driver appeared to have nodded off with his eyes closed as the vehicle with 10 children aboard hurtled down a rural highway and, seconds later, went off the road, sending kids tumbling across the aisle and jolting the driver awake.
“I am so sorry,” driver Jonathan Gates shouted as terrified students, aged 10 to 16, screamed and the bus rolled to a stop, according to video of the crash released by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
No one was hurt but Gates, 20, was arrested and accused of driving under the influence, the sheriff’s office said. The yellow bus had front-end damage from crashing into a ditch Wednesday morning 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Portland.
In the video, an adult bus aide is sitting in the right-hand front seat, but unable to notice that Gates has his eyes closed. It’s not until the bus starts leaving the road that he says, “Hey, hey, hey.” Gates then opens his eyes and tries to wrestle the bus under control. More than 20 seconds elapse before the aide turns around and asks if everybody is OK.
The sheriff’s office said Gates appeared to be impaired and was arrested for allegedly operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. A photo released by the sheriff’s office showed the handcuffed driver being searched by deputies.
The Forest Grove School District said the children were from elementary, middle and high schools.
It wasn’t clear if Gates had an attorney. He was transported to the county jail, issued a citation and released, the sheriff’s office said.
The school district said he will undergo a mandatory drug test and be placed on administrative leave while an investigation is ongoing.