BENTON TOWNSHIP — Police in Columbia County have filed charges against a bus driver for allegedly driving her bus route under the influence.
Students on the bus in the Benton Area School District said the driver was acting strange and driving erratically on their way home after school Wednesday afternoon.
Police said that bus driver, Jennifer Watson of Benton, is suspected of driving under the influence.
Police filed several charges against her, including DUI and reckless driving.
Charging documents show the students told police: “The driver was yelling and cursing at students and was driving all over the road.”
“We had two kids up front talking to her, trying to calm her down, and one of them said that they could smell like alcohol on her, like on her breath,” said Ryan Lynn, an 11th grader who said he was on the bus.
Lynn said it seemed Watson thought she was driving her morning bus route.
“We were like ‘where are we going,’ and she was like ‘I’m taking you to school,’ and we were like ‘we already went to school,’ and she said ‘no you weren’t,’ and we were like, ‘okay,’” said Lynn.
Police said the students then told her: “It was 3:40 in the afternoon, time to go home”.
Police said Watson then took the children back to school where school officials and Watson’s boss, the owner of Brewington Transportation in Benton, were waiting for her.
When police spoke with Watson on the charges she faces, she denied drinking but said she had gin soaked raisins to help with headaches.
Watson`s next door neighbor said she hopes people won`t be too quick to judge her.
“You don`t know what`s happening in somebody`s house or how they feel that day. It`s not right to condemn them,” said Mary Ann Zeveney.
Zeveney said her heart goes out to Watson`s children, who are also students at Benton Area.
“Sad, sad because they`re nice kids. They`re on the honor roll and they`re good kids.”
Police said Watson has not been formally charged, but the charging documents are at a magistrate`s office.
Watson is expected to be arraigned on those charges at a later time.