TYNGSBORO (CBS) – A school bus driver was arrested on drunk driving charges after she failed to pick up students after school.
Police said Debra Cloutier, 57, was scheduled to pick up students from Innovation Academy in Tyngsboro at 3:45 p.m. on Monday.
Police Chief Rich Howe said Cloutier’s bus was found parked “haphazardly” at a business on Middlesex Road.
It was the co-owner of Brickhouse Pizza who tipped off police to this unfortunate situation. Chris Callery says Cloutier of Tyngsboro parked the bus sideways in the parking lot, came in demanding pizzas she ordered and reeked of alcohol.
That’s when the Callery made Cloutier a salad to stall her and called police. He says his mind went right to the kids.
“Well when she’s got a school bus and she’s going to pick up kids. It’s a different story. That’s why I did it,” said Chris Callery. “I feel bad for the lady. I hope she gets the help she needs.”
Officers said Cloutier appeared to be “highly intoxicated” and declined a breathalyzer.
After she was taken into custody, Cloutier slipped out of her handcuffs and made a phone call. The officer pulled the cruiser over and fixed the handcuffs.
Police said that while Cloutier drove students earlier in the day, it does not appear she drove drunk with any children on the bus.
“Anything like this is stunning and scary,” Howe said. “Our No. 1 priority was to find out if she drove that bus while she was intoxicated with children on board. We have no reason to believe at this time that occurred. What she did obviously is horrendous and she’s going to have to answer to that.
Greg Orpen, Head of School for Innovation Academy, declined comment other than saying transportation is done through Christianson Bus Company in Billerica.
“We will of course closely monitor this situation,” Orpen said.
Cloutier was charged with operating under the influence of alcohol and license not in possession.
“It’s very fortunate it ended the way it did,” Howe said.