A Bonita School fifth-grader is being hailed as a hero for alerting authorities to concerns that the bus he was aboard Monday afternoon on his way home from school was being driven in an unsafe manner.
The student called 911 from the bus, setting in motion a series of events which led to the arrest of the bus driver, identified as Karolyn Denise Ray, 55, of Patterson, on charges of driving under the influence of a controlled substance and child endangerment.
Authorities took Ray into custody after locating the bus and making contact with the driver on Morton Davis Drive in Diablo Grande. She was driving for First Student, a company which contracts with the Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District to provide transportation services.
California Highway Patrol Officer Thomas Olsen and Newman-Crows Landing Superintendent Randy Fillpot each praised the student.
Fillpot told Mattos Newspapers that he was "appalled" by the incident, but applauded the student for taking action.
"He did exactly what we hope would happen. He is to be commended," said Fillpot, who spoke with the student Tuesday.
Olsen said that the driver's actions were "enough to cause concern that the student should call 911. I'm thrilled that a child of that age knew to call 911, and give their location and everything. I am very impressed. This kid is a hero to me. He did everything right."
Fillpot said the bus was carrying elementary students, most of whom attended Bonita School in Crows Landing.
Olsen said that he was unsure how many kids were still on the bus when law enforcement officers located the vehicle, but said that at one point 40 to 50 students were on board.
Fillpot said he was advised that the driver was a substitute on the route.
He said district administrators have met with First Student management, and are further evaluating the district's relationship with the transportation company.
"The children are the first thing we are concerned about," Fillpot said, adding that the incident was "appalling and disheartening."
This is a developing story and will be updated as additional information becomes available.