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Parents Outraged Over Drunk Bus Driver's Punishment
Filed under: In The News
A school bus driver who drove 37 students while intoxicated was sentenced to five years probation and jail time, but some parents of her terrified passengers say the punishment is not nearly harsh enough.
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According to the "CBS Early Show," bus driver Martha Thompson, 56, of Almond, N.Y. pleaded guilty Nov. 2, 2009, to 37 counts of child endangerment and driving while intoxicated on May 8, 2009, while students screamed and begged her to stop. On Jan. 4, the Allegany County Court sentenced her to six months of electronic home monitoring, five years of probation, 12 weekends in jail and mandatory alcohol counseling. She was also fined $1,000.
A video captured the frightening ride, during which several students beg Thompson to pull over. The "Early Show" reports that her blood alcohol level was .15, almost twice the New York state legal limit of .08 percent.
Grace Scherzer, 16, and Chelsey Pierce, 15, were on board that day and were instrumental in helping their fellow passengers off the bus through the back exit while Thompson ranted for them to stay on board. Scherzer tells the "Early Show" that she approached Thompson after noticing the bus was swerving all over the road.
"I went up to talk to her and asked if she was OK to drive," she tells the "Early Show."
The teen says Thompson said she was fine, yet continued to drive erratically. Later, the girl managed to get the bus's back gate open and helped usher her fellow students off the vehicle.
Pierce tells the news program that she called her mother during the scary ride. Her mom, Lori Loomis, says Thompson's punishment is less than satisfactory.
"I am outraged. I am very upset with what she received," Loomis tells the "Early Show." "And I just don't think it's a harsh enough punishment for this woman. She put all these children's lives in danger. She could have killed them all. I'm very upset with the outcome."
Thompson's attorney, Thomas D. Trbovich, tells the "Early Show" that his client is "embarrassed."
"She's very sorry to the children," he says. "She never, ever would intentionally put any of those children ... in any type of risk."
Does Thompson deserve a harsher sentence, or does her punishment fit the crime?
Related: Alcohol Abuse and Dependence
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