Pinellas County school bus driver Dorothy Burse, 56, has been arrested and charged with DUI after a mid-Pinellas County car accident. The school bus had been traveling westbound on 54th Avenue North and was stopped at a red light at the intersection of 66th Street when another vehicle collided with the rear of the bus, then drove off. At the time of the accident there were seven school children on board the bus.
Sgt. Steve Gaskin, spokesman for FHP, said Burse appeared to be under the influence of some substance when troopers arrived to the scene. She failed sobriety exercises and was arrested, Gaskin said.
He said it wasn’t clear what substance caused Burse to be impaired, but it wasn’t alcohol.
Another Pinellas County school bus was involved in a car accident today, the first day back to school for children in Pinellas County, in Clearwater. It took Clearwater police and firefighters nearly an hour to extricate the bus driver after the crash. Police said a Kia, driven by Edward Burke, 58, ran a red light and collided with a school bus, causing the bus to hit a light pole. The accident occurred at the intersection of Drew Street and Fort Harrison Avenue in Clearwater.
Needless to say, this was not a good day for Pinellas County school bus drivers. The DUI incident is deplorable and should incite a great deal of anxiety and fear in the hearts of parents who take buses to school every day. If the bus driver is indeed guilty of DUI, the school board will most likely dismiss her. She may even face more criminal charges such as child endangerment. I’m not sure what the Pinellas County School Board can do to prevent these types of incidents, but there has to be absolutely zero tolerance for this kind of egregious behavior. It’s bad enough to drive a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicating substance. It’s exponentially worse when you get behind the wheel of a school bus with kids on board.
Pinellas County schools released this statement: “Pinellas County Schools takes student safety seriously. The incident involving Ms. Burse is concerning. The accident and incident are under investigation. Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken following the results of the investigation.”
I’d say it’s more than concerning, it’s appalling!