Arrested: School bus driver overdosed on heroin and crashed with 12 special needs students aboard

On Wednesday afternoon, a New Jersey school bus driver crashed into a tree in Newark. At the time, she was carrying a group of children with special needs.

Bus driver, Lisa Byrd, 57, was transporting 12 special needs students from Fourteenth Avenue School in Newark when she crashed into a tree on 14th Avenue and Jones Street at around 1:00 p.m.

Byrd was revived with the opioid revival drug Narcan after it was alleged that she’d overdosed on heroin. The children’s ages ranged from 5 to 13, and they weren’t badly injured in the crash.

Video footage shows the bus moving slowly through an intersection and passing in front of cars before jumping the curb and hitting a small tree.

According to the Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose, the police found drug paraphernalia in the bus and are seeking a search warrant to test Byrd’s blood.

Ambrose said, “This is a pathetic situation.” A witness at the scene, Sherod Jones, said Byrd didn’t look like she was having a drug overdose.

Jones stated, "She looked like she was having a stroke or something." The bus driver was revived with Narcan, a drug that instantly reverses the effects of overdose from heroin and other opioids.

He jumped on the bus after the crash. Jones said: "I got on the bus, and I checked to see what the lady's foot on the brake, and I put it in park so that the kids would be alright. They said it was 12 kids on that bus, so I just wanted to make sure that the lady was alright. She was really my main concern [sic]."

Describing Byrd’s condition, he said: "Her eyes were wide open and her hands were up, then they went down, her arms, and her eyes were wide open."

Ambrose described the children’s condition saying, “The students were shaken up and taken to area hospitals. They were later released, (and) are being released to their parents.”

Byrd, who works for F & A Transportation in East Orange, had a suspended license between 1996 and 2006. Ambrose couldn’t, however, elaborate on why it had been suspended.

In a statement, the Newark Public Schools said F & A Transport had been "removed from transporting children" until the investigation is completed. 

The bus driver faces 12 charges of child endangerment, possession of drug paraphernalia, and driving while impaired.

In a statement, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka said:

"Endangering the lives of Newark children is something we will not tolerate. We are grateful that none of the students were injured and that no other residents were harmed due to this incident."

Showing that some bus drivers are negligent with their passengers, two years ago, Indian traffic police arrested a school bus driver for driving under the influence of alcohol.

The driver was arrested on Old Airport Road when police personnel was conducting checks on school bus drivers. A police officer said:

“Shahaji Mule of Chaitanya School was transporting 32 students of a school. He claimed he had a drink around 12.30pm. He was caught at 5.30pm.”

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