Willimantic family reacts after school bus driver suspended - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Willimantic family reacts after school bus driver suspended

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Catherine Caron. (Willimantic police photo) Catherine Caron. (Willimantic police photo)
DANIELSON, CT (WFSB) -

The family of four Willimantic students injured two months ago when their bus driver slammed into a utility pole spoke out about the driving under influence charge given to the driver.

Police said 52-year-old Catherine Caron, of Scotland, was driving under the influence when she crashed on Sept. 10. Her bus slammed into a utility pole on Quarry Road with children aboard. Four of them were hurt.

"I hope she gets what she deserves. She could have killed my grandchildren,” the children's grandmother Carol Glidden said.

It happened in a school zone, where speed restrictions are in place, according to investigators.

Police said they did a urinalysis, which came back through a warrant showing Caron had been driving under the influence. She was charged with that crime along with possession of a controlled substance and risk of injury.

Caron was arraigned at Danielson Superior Court on Friday. Her license to drive school students suspended this afternoon by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

"I'm so happy they're doing something with this woman,” Glidden said.

Glidden said the 9-year-old granddaughter suffered a concussion and the children haven't gotten back on a bus since.

"This is traumatizing my grandchildren,” Glidden said. “They didn't even want to go back to school."

Court records show that Caron had a run-in with the law a month before the crash. She got a speeding ticket on Route 14 in Windham.

Eyewitness News learned Caron was driving a Chevy Prism in August. The ticket was for driving unreasonably fast and she could now face a $200 fine.

A spokesperson for EASTCONN, her former employer, told Eyewitness News they were not aware of the August speeding ticket.

After reviewing drivers' records, EASTCONN Media Relations Liaison Teddie Sleight said "each fall, EASTCONN conducts an annual review of DMV records for every bus driver.”

“If any concerns are found, drivers are evaluated on a case-by-case basis for their fitness to drive,” Sleight said.

As for drug testing, EASTCONN said "an outside firm conducts mandatory pre-employment drug screenings for every driver; that same firm conducts random drug and alcohol tests of drivers throughout the year."

"They need to do something if she had a ticket before why was she still driving in a bus with children on there? That should have been her main priority,” Glidden said.

DMV spokesman Bill Seymour explained Caron's license to drive school children is suspended right now. Caron can request a hearing, but she also faces further criminal charges from the DMV because of the serious nature of the felony. 

She could lose the privilege to drive school children for up to 5 years.

To read the current application process requirements for a school bus driver, click here.

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