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Caught on Tape: Kids Escape Drunken Bus Driver Martha Thompson


ALFRED, N.Y. (CBS/WIVB/AP) 56-year-old Martha Thompson took students on a wild, drunken ride, caught on tape. Now, the former western New York school bus driver has been sentenced to 90 days in jail for being drunk behind the wheel, during the harrowing trip that was captured on the vehicle's surveillance video.

Thompson, of Almond, NY, was also sentenced Monday in Allegany County Court to six months of electronic home monitoring, plus five years probation and mandatory counseling, and fined $1,000.

(CBS)
Photo: Martha Thompson.

She pleaded guilty Nov. 2 to driving while intoxicated and 37 counts of reckless endangerment, one for each of the Alfred-Almond school district students she transported on May 8.

Defense attorney Thomas Trbovich said, "She made a very bad judgment."

Thompson was driving with a .15 blood alcohol level with 37 children on the bus, according to CBS affiliate WIVB.

(CBS)
Photo: Two students act quickly to evacuate their school bus after the driver was drunk and driving erratically.

The children reported that she was going 70 mph at one point, ran over a mailbox, and rolled backwards down a hill. The children eventually escaped out the emergency exit.

Thompson's attorney says his client had a bad reaction of a beer and her medication.

"She is very sorry. She is very sorry to the bus company. She's embarrassed. She's very sorry to the children. She never, ever would intentionally put any of those children… in any type of risk," said Trbovich.

Allegany County Assistant District Attorney Michael Finn said, "I think this was a just, appropriate outcome in this case.

Trbovich added, "The fact that my client has no criminal history…no one was injured, but this has been a really good thing because it's turned her life around and now she's getting the help that she needs."

Reporting Contributed to CBS Affiliate WIVB