School bus driver admits drinking before work
By ELISE FRANCO
A substitute bus driver’s lawyer submitted a written plea of innocent in court, after police said she admitted consuming alcohol and prescription medication before operating her bus.
Geraldine Banks, 65, of North Jackson, was charged Tuesday with “operating a commercial motor vehicle while having a measurable or detectable amount of alcohol or controlled substance,” said Canfield Police Chief Chuck Colucci.
She was represented in Mahoning County Area Court in Canfield on Wednesday afternoon by Atty. Gerald Ingram, who had no further comment. Her next court date is pending.
Colucci said Banks was pulling her bus out of the bus garage at about 1:45 p.m. Tuesday when she clipped an empty bus in the lot. The bus garage is attached to the police department off Lisbon Drive.
“She reported the accident to the supervisor, and he immediately got in touch with us,” Colucci said.
Colucci said Banks eventually admitted drinking earlier in the day and taking prescription medication. He said Banks could also be charged with a misdemeanor OVI pending the results of a urine test.
She also was required to undergo alcohol testing for the school district, he said.
Colucci said Banks is a retired Canfield bus driver who was filling in as a substitute driver.
No children were on either bus at the time of the accident, which comes one week after David Bell, 60, and Stephanie Ensley, 51, both Canfield bus drivers, were cited for failing to report a Jan. 11 crash involving their buses on Montgomery Drive. Both drivers were placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation, Canfield Superintendent Dante Zambrini has said.
Colucci said dealing with two accidents in such short time span is disappointing.
“Obviously we’re extremely happy that no children were on the bus or injured,” he said. “The school is just going to have to do everything they can and consider proactive steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Zambrini was not immediately available for comment Wednesday, but Colucci said the department has been corresponding with the school on the matter.
“They’re noticeably disappointed but prepared to deal with the situation,” he said.