Massachusetts school bus driver facing OUI, child endangerment charges

(FILE)
(FILE)(WVIR)
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 12:35 PM EST
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PEMBROKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - A school bus driver in eastern Massachusetts is facing several charges after her arrest on Thursday.

Mass. State Police spokesperson David Procopio said that troopers were on patrol late Thursday afternoon when they responded to a report of a school bus driving erratically along Route 3 northbound in Pembroke. The caller was reportedly a passenger on the bus and told dispatchers that the bus was serving in and out of lanes and ran a red light. Troopers located the bus a short time later and conducted a traffic stop.

The driver, identified as 53-year-old Bethann Sweeney of Hanover, was asked to get off the bus and as she did, police reportedly saw her unsteady on her feet and smelled a strong odor of alcohol coming from her. Troopers also reportedly noticed that her speech and appearance was indicative of being intoxicated.

Sweeney allegedly picked up 28 passengers, ranging in age from 14 to 20, and two adult supervisors at Plymouth North High School after they attended a Special Olympics united basketball closing ceremony. The destination was Hingham High School.

Procopio explained in a statement:

“The adult passengers told Troopers that the bus was swerving across the road and that Sweeney had tried to get onto Route 3 South, which was the wrong direction to return to Hingham High School. When told she was heading in the wrong direction, Sweeney ran a red light and then managed to get onto Route 3 North, again swerving across the road and driving over rumble strips multiple times.”

Several field sobriety tests were administered and, based on those findings, troopers believed that Sweeney was under the influence of alcohol. She was brought to a State Police barracks, where she allegedly refused to take a breathalyzer test, which triggered an immediate license suspension. She was transported to South Shore Hospital for evaluation and then brought back to the barracks for booking, during which she indicated that she was a school bus driver and she was employed by the town of Hingham.

During an inventory of Sweeney’s belongings, investigators reportedly found a plastic water bottle that was reportedly half empty and had a strong odor of alcohol.

Sweeney has been charged with operating under the influence of liquor, child endangerment while operating under the influence, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, reckless endangerment of a child, and having an open container of alcohol while driving. Her bail was set at $2,450, which was not posted, and she is scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Plymouth District Court.