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Impaired school bus driver picked up 4 kids before being stopped: police

The vice president of a school bus company has personally apologized to the families of four special needs students who were put on a bus with a driver police say was impaired.

'We are grateful that all students are safe': Letter from principal going home today

A school bus driver was arrested Monday after he tested over the legal limit for alcohol, police say. (CBC)

The leader of a school bus company has personally apologized to the families of four special needs students who were put on a bus with a driver police say was impaired.

"I'm heartbroken over it, really," said Attridge Transportation vice president, Glenn Attridge, who called the four families involved in the Monday incident.

"In the history of this company we've never have a driver arrested for impaired driving behind the wheel of a bus."

The 48-year-old employee was charged by police and has been suspended by the company. 

The principal of St. John the Baptist Catholic Elementary School is sending home a letter to parents about the incident

"First and foremost, we are grateful that all students are safe," said principal Adrian De Tullio in the letter. "I commend staff for being alert and reporting the concern. We would like to thank Hamilton Police Service for responding immediately."

It's so unbelievable that you're dumbfounded by it.- Glenn Attridge, VP of Attridge Transportation 

When the school bus driver got to St. John the Baptist Catholic Elementary School on London Street South on Monday, a teacher suspected the man had been drinking. 

The driver was there to pick up four kids around 4 p.m. The teacher reported her suspicion to the school. When the report got to Attridge Transportation the company told the driver over the radio to stop the bus and called the police.

'It's a really sad day'

Police were dispatched and found the bus at Garside and Maple avenues, about a kilometre from the school. One officer stayed with the kids until a second bus came to take them home, and the other officer took the driver to do some roadside screening breath tests, police say.

They took him to the police station, where he failed more breath tests, police say. The driver  was released with a future court date to answer to charges of impaired driving over the legal limit. The police did not release his name ahead of that court date.

"It's a really sad day," Attridge said. His father started the school bus company in 1976, and Attridge has been working there for 32 years, since he was 18.

Attridge said the driver in question joined the company in September and had not been a bus driver before the company trained him.  

"I wish this driver had made better choices," he said. "It's so unbelievable that you're dumbfounded by it."

De Tullio, the principal, said he'd also communicated with the parents of the four students involved, and that the driver has been suspended from his job "pending the outcome of the legal proceedings." 

"The board and school commend the prompt actions of our teachers and Hamilton police in responding to this matter," said Marnie Jadon, spokesperson for the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board. 

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