WALTON COUNTY, Ga. – A Georgia school bus driver was charged with DUI Monday after police responded to reports of a bus packed with school children that was being driven recklessly on the road, authorities said.
“A student on the bus actually notified their parent. And the parent notified the school,” said Callen Moore, with Walton County schools.
Catherine Etheridge, 49, was pulled over by police at Loganville Middle School and removed from the bus, where a substitute driver finished the route that was carrying 31 students, Fox 5 Atlanta reported. During the course of the DUI investigation, she was found with alcohol and prescription pills in her purse, according to police.
Channel 2 news reported that Etheridge had no prior history of DUIs. However, she was fired from her previous job with the Gwinnett school system due to “unsatisfactory performance.” And then one month later she was driving for the Walton school system.
Etheridge was charged with DUI and 16 counts of endangering a child, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Channel 2 Action News went to her home in Dacula to get her side of the story but no one answered the door.
Parents told the news agency that Etheridge deserves a severe punishment.
“Jail time. A lot of jail time,” said parent Aimee Elmore. “That’s putting the lives of our kids in danger and anybody else on the road.”
School leaders are praising the alert student who notified their parent. The students onboard the bus were all under the age of 14. Etheridge has been fired, Walton school officials said.
She posted $25,762 bail and has been released from jail.
(Walton County Sheriff’s Office)