TYNGSBORO, Mass. (WHDH) – A bus driver in Tyngsboro has been fired after she was arrested on drunken driving charges earlier this week.
A police report said officers responded at around 3:45 p.m. Monday to Brickhouse Pizza on Middlesex Road for a report of a school bus that was parked sideways with the driver appearing intoxicated.
Debra Cloutier, 57, was allegedly found drunk inside the bus, which is owned by Christianson Bus Company. Field sobriety tests conducted determined that Cloutier had a blood-alcohol level of 0.157, nearly twice the legal limit.
“She really didn’t understand what was going on. She was confused,” said Tyngsboro Police Chief Richard Howe said.
There were no students on board the school bus at the time but Howe said Cloutier was headed to pick up students at Innovation Academy when she pulled into the pizzeria. Earlier in the day, police said Cloutier had dropped students off from the Academy of Notre Dame.
“She failed to show up. Calls went out to find out where that bus was. This was the bus,” said Howe.
The owner of Brickhouse Pizza said he called 911, alerting police of Cloutier’s presence outside his shop. He told 7News she was acting erratically and told him she was going to pick up children at the school.
“She pulled in and she was just acting erratic,” said Chris Callery. “She said she was going to pick up the kids at the school so I called the authorities and they came.”
Cloutier admitted to officers that she had been drinking, saying she had a “celebratory drink” with a friend, according to a police report.
“What she did was obviously horrendous and she’s going to have to answer for that,” Howe said.
Sources told 7News that Cloutier, while in a police cruiser following her arrest, slipped out of handcuffs and answered a phone call.
At this time, Howe said the Tyngsboro Police Department has no reason to believe Cloutier operated the bus while drunk with students on board.
Cloutier is charged with operating under the influence of alcohol. Police say she was not in possession of her license. She was arraigned Tuesday and released on personal recognizance.
The incident is under investigation. Christianson Bus Company said Cloutier no longer works for them.
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