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DUI Investigation Into Benton Area Bus Driver

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.

17 comments

  • David Shaffer

    Wife went to the school board meeting and they are doing absolutely nothing but sweeping it under the carpet to save their butts.. I know if any of our commercial drivers acts weird the first thing is a drug and alcohol screening.

    • tom

      Seems like school districts don’t want anyone making waves about anything.They don’t want problems-just there for their pay & pension like any other job.

  • crs

    This is serious and the entire community should be happy that there were no accidents or injuries to the children. I believe no charges should be filed as she did explain the remedy she was using for her health. This example can be used in the future for all schools and their bus drivers. Actually, this is an asset to schools doing better screening, hiring, training, and monitoring of employees. I am very thankful that there were no injuries for the precious lives on board. This incident should allow us all to be aware that there is problems within a school system but can be improved with proper concerns, guidance, and supervision.

  • MaryAnn

    As a school bus driver I can attest to the fact that it’s an extremely difficult job, however, I can’t imagine why a driver would think it’s ok to eat gin-soaked raisins to help her through the day! And I’ve never heard of it being used as a remedy for migraines! What is bothering me though is that if police were waiting for her at the school, the kids must have called someone to let them know. Why didn’t the police immediately race to her position on the route and STOP her?

    • Cassidy

      The place route that the bus was on was in the State Troopers jurisdiction,and it would have taken at least an hour for them to get there. That’s why.

  • jen

    If u cant handle kids u shouldnt be drivin a bus… my lil brother was on dat bus… so before u say u would have to drink to handle those brats.. just think wat would u do if it was ur kids or family members. U wouldnt like it either!!!

  • Just Saying

    Too bad she wasn’t a teacher. The teacher’s union would have protected her and she would have been put on paid leave. Bus drivers get one-third the pay of a teacher and five times the responsibility!! No paid sick days or benefits. Maybe she couldn’t afford to take the day off. Let’s give her the same sympathy, excuses, and consideration we give a teacher or administrator who makes a mistake. Just saying!!!

  • Upset parent

    what are they doing with the kids to help them through this? Nothing that I no of !!!! My son just told me he will not take the bus ever again!!!! He is still scared!!!

  • Cassidy Joline

    This was MY bus with MY baby sister sitting in the front seat. I will be quick to judge because when you choose to be a bus driver, you are NOT allowed to have any sort of alcohol even during the weekend. She was very lucky that I was not on the bus, but I had stayed behind after school to work at the blood drive we had that day. I think that people should judge her because she is a grown woman and should know better even if she had alcohol problems (or so I have been told). What would have happened if she had crashed and children would have gotten hurt or even killed?

  • CCKM

    What’s nasty is drunken school bus drivers! Maybe you missed the memo where she was tryhing to cover up with “gin-soaked raisins?!” She suffers from migraines, the kids smelled alcohol, so they said. If you’re headache is THAT bad, call off, rather than try to be noble and put these kids in danger. Upset parent; I am glad your kids are OK!

  • Buddy Boy

    Some people are so nasty and quick to judge before they even know what the facts are. I am not saying she is guilty or innocent but imagine what it would be like if you were judged by what some people think without knowing all the facts. There could be other reasons that would cause this. I had a neighbor that always acted drunk, people would say so and so was drinking again. it ended up that the man had a brain tumor and had trouble talking and with his balance. He is no longer accused of being drunk, he is dead from the brain tumor. So give the woman a break until you have all the facts. If she was drunk and not sick then she should be held responsible, but everyone, you and I, are entitled to be judged fairly after all the facts are known.

  • Upset parent

    I totally agree!!! I don’t care what happens in other peoples houses!!!! I care about my kids getting to and from school safe. My kids were on that bus. And I am very upset parent.

  • CCKM

    ““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.” Say that when it’s YOUR kid on the bus. Gin soaked raisins are a stretch! Might be meds and alcohol; nice mix. Whatever the case, this is an inexcuseable incident.

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