A bus driver was thrown behind bars after her erratic behavior behind the wheel left frightened students screaming in horror, prompting one kid to call 911 in hopes of saving his peers. Surveillance video from the bus captured the terrifying ride and the driver’s rambling monologue on video, and she was subsequently arrested.
Catherine Maccarone, a 48-year-old bus driver with the Longview School District in Longview, Washington, was arrested after a nearly two-hour surveillance camera video captured her rambling incoherently. With and without students aboard her bus, Maccarone went on numerous bizarre tangents as she completed routes for both the elementary and high school. But, sadly, her puzzling rants were truly the least of everyone’s worries.
In the video, Maccarone tells a bus full of students that she graduated from college three times and that she spent a year as a gang informant while pursuing a career in law enforcement in Los Angeles. “Hey did you know I was going to be a police officer down in L.A. county you know? I had to like spend a year being either an informant on the crips or the bloods side,” she told high school students. “I am crazy. I’m totally crazy. I am so fun crazy because I love life,” Maccarone says in the surveillance video obtained by NBC affiliate KGW.
After finishing her high school route, Maccarone took the elementary school children home, and things only went from bad to worse. Her ramblings became more bizarre as the woman shouted and shrieked at the kids. “Hey, hey, okay! Boys and girls, we do have basic rules!” she yelled at the panicked and frightened children. “Yeah, yeah, no,” Maccarone shrieked in the footage. However, her rambling monologue wasn’t the worst of her bizarre behavior.
As the driver was “wobbling,” according to Inside Edition, the children in her care said she ran three red lights and drove on the sidewalk as they bounced in their seats and screamed in horror. In the footage from the bus, students can be heard crying as they wondered whether they’d make it home alive. Maccarone’s erratic and frightening behavior was enough to prompt a fifth-grade student to call 911 after he got home, believing his bus driver had been driving drunk and fearing for the well-being of his peers who were still onboard.
“We just got off the bus — me and my friend. And on bus 8 … the bus driver, Catherine, she was drunk,” the child can be heard saying in the audio of the 911 call released to ABC News. “She passed three red lights and she got on the side road by the 76. And there’s still kids on there. And I was telling my friend to get off with me — and his sister — but the bus driver wouldn’t let him,” the boy calmly told the dispatcher. “Her eyes, you can tell, she was drunk.”
Even after the students were all dropped off, Catherine Maccarone’s outburst continued. “You know why I’m doing it? Because my marriage sucks. My husband is a son of a gun and there’s no one on this bus. Yeah, he’s a son of a gun,” she said, as she is seen talking to herself in the video from the then-empty bus.
When police officers finally caught up with her, they quickly noticed that Catherine Maccarone smelled of alcohol, but the woman gave a much different explanation for appearing intoxicated. According to a report from the Cowlitz County Sherriff’s office, Maccarone told the police that she had been taking sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication. However, court records show Maccarone’s alcohol breathalyzer test came back at .096, just over the legal limit, according to KPTV.
Maccarone, who had been with the district for a year and had driven 90 students in total that afternoon, was arrested on DUI charges and two counts of reckless endangerment. She was taken to the Cowlitz County Jail and immediately placed on administrative leave by the school. Although she has pleaded not guilty, she resigned from her job, school officials said. The school district also said that it has since implemented a new safety procedure to better screen bus drivers before they leave on their routes.
“At Longview Public Schools safety and security of our students and staff is a top priority,” District Communications Coordinator Rick Parrish said in a statement, adding that a complete investigation into the incident was being conducted. “In the meantime, an initial review of transportation processes and procedures has taken place and resulted in changes to the bus key check out process. Additionally, the district has invited a state Department of Education transportation manager to review our transportation processes and provide feedback.”
Driving under the influence is always a bad idea, but it’s even worse when someone drives drunk with a child. Luckily, many states agree and have laws that punish those who receive a DUI with a minor in the car more harshly. In the state of Washington, if you are convicted of a DUI with a passenger under the age of sixteen, the court will order a minimum fine of $1,000 for the first offense and you will face more severe penalties when sentenced. After putting 90 innocent children at risk, we can only hope this bus driver has the book thrown at her.