Catherine Maccarone, a Longview, Washington school bus driver, is shown on video driving erratically on her bus route as the children scream for her to pull over. The 48-year-old was later arrested for driving under the influence after her blood-alcohol content registered as a .096, more than double the .04 limit for a bus driver in the state, during a breathalyzer test.
On September 12, 911 received a call from a 10-year-old boy who was terrified after getting off the bus. He told officers that Maccarone had run numerous red lights and appeared drunk, KGW reported. "She was drunk. Like, passed three red lights," the boy told 911 dispatchers. "Her eyes, you could tell she was drunk. Her breath sort of smelled like alcohol."
KGW obtained a video of the horrifying ride through a records request. In the nearly two hour video, Maccarone can be heard blathering incoherently and complaining about her husband during her morning and afternoon routes, which serve more than 90 children. At one point in the video, a boy calls her crazy, to which she responds, "I am crazy. I'm totally crazy. I am so fun crazy because I love life." She then adds that she's not crazy since she has "graduated from college three times."
After the 10-year-old boy called police, officers pulled Maccarone over and observed in their report that they could smell an "obvious" odor of alcohol coming from the driver, according to KGW. "There is no way that cheap beer is still in my system. That drink my uncle made must have had some kick in it," Maccarone said when she was informed of the breathalyzer results, according to the police report TDN obtained.
TDN also noted that the bus driver told officers that she was struggling with her divorce and was taking anxiety and sleep medication. Maccarone was booked into the Cowlitz County Jail on DUI charges and two counts of reckless endangerment. She later resigned from her position as a bus driver on September 25, and her resignation was accepted the following day. Her trial is scheduled to take place on November 22.
The school says it has implemented "an improved process" to screen bus drivers on a daily basis before they start their routes, Longview Public Schools Superintendent Dan Zorn said in a statement. In addition, a transportation representative from the state's education department is "reviewing district bus operations and may have other safety measures to consider for implementation," the statement said.
"We are thankful all our students arrived home safely," Zorn said.
In Washington State, a first offense DUI conviction is a misdemeanor and carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence for BAC of less than .15% of 24 hours up to 364 days. The minimum sentence goes up to 48 hours for a BAC greater than .15% or test refusal. Meanwhile, reckless endangerment is charged as a gross misdemeanor. A conviction is punishable with up to 364 days in jail and fine of up to $1,000.