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School bus driver suspected of DWI after driving off Minnesota roadway with 45 students

School bus driver accused of DWI after driving off roadway with 49 students
School bus driver accused of DWI after driving off roadway with 49 students 00:29

RUSH CITY, Minn. — A southeastern Minnesota woman is accused of being drunk when she drove a school bus off a roadway Thursday morning with 45 students on board.

The Chisago County Sheriff's Office says 59-year-old Kara Jean Ffrench, of Harris, is charged with two counts of driving while intoxicated.

Court documents state a property owner in Rush City called 911 after they said a bus was stuck in their cornfield and pinned against a basketball pole.

A deputy arrived at the scene and noted "a moderate odor of alcoholic beverage" coming from Ffrench, according to court documents. Ffrench allegedly told the deputy her "foot did not find the brake" before she crashed near the area where she typically turns around during her route.

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Chisago County Sheriff's Office

Of the dozens of children on board, most were "elementary age, and under the age of 16," the deputy stated in court documents. There were no reported injuries.

The deputy said Ffrench exited the bus holding an insulated coffee mug and a plastic water bottle, and the contents of the mug smelled like a mixture of coffee and an added "alcoholic beverage," according to court records.

Ffrench told the deputy she hadn't consumed alcohol in days, and then proceeded to fail the field sobriety test.

Court documents state Ffrench agreed to a breath test at the scene and was taken into custody after blowing a 0.199, which is more than twice the legal limit. She then took another breath test in the Chisago County Jail, which registered at 0.17 less than two hours after the crash.

Both of Ffrench's DWI charges have a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail and/or a $3,000 fine. 

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