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Westboro school bus driver charged with drunk driving with students on board

Westboro school bus driver charged with driving drunk with children on board
Westboro school bus driver charged with driving drunk with children on board 02:31

WESTBORO – A Westboro school bus driver was arrested Thursday morning after allegedly driving drunk with students on board.

In an email to families, Westboro Superintendent of Schools Amber Bock said the driver of bus 8 was arrested at the Park Village apartment complex on East Main Street. 

Westboro police identified her as 51-year-old Jane Welch of Marlboro. She is charged with second offense operating under the influence of liquor, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and child endangerment while operating under the influence.

Welch has since been fired, NRT Bus said.

Prosecutors said people noticed Welch stumbling as she got on her bus at the Westboro School Bus Yard Thursday morning. She allegedly refused to get off the bus to be checked by officials from the bus company and drove off.

Westboro police said the bus company called for a well-being check on Welch at around 7:15 a.m. About 25 minutes later, Welch was arrested. Police said she was slurring, smelled of alcohol and grabbed a student's seat to catch her balance. Police said they also found pills on Welch and she couldn't provide a prescription. Her defense attorney said they were blood pressure pills.

"That just makes me think how many times did this happened that we didn't catch?" said parent Jenny Albin. "I'm really grateful that this morning someone caught it, [police] got there."

About 25-30 students from Mill Pond School were on the bus at the time. Students from grades 4-6 attend the school.

"We want to reassure the community that swift and decisive action was taken to address the situation and prevent any further potential harm," police said in a statement. "We extend our heartfelt gratitude to those who reported their concerns and collaborated with us throughout this process. Your vigilance and willingness to speak up contribute significantly to the safety of our community's children."

No one was hurt. Bock said she is "saddened and frustrated" by the incident.

"Providing for our students' safety is the most important responsibility we have and we are shocked and dismayed about this," Bock said. 

A man whose 11-year-old daughter was on the bus described how upset she was.

"The truth is she was very scared because the police entering the bus asking names, and she's like 'What's going on?'" the man said. "They didn't know if they were looking for someone or something. When they finally realized they wanted to talk to the driver and they arrested her, that's when they realized the problem was with the driver and not with them."

In court, Welch's defense attorney said she denied the charges and that she has been struggling with depression recently.

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