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CLAYTON, N.J. — A bus driver for a New Jersey public school district is facing multiple charges after police said she was under the influence of alcohol while transporting dozens of kids to school on Friday morning.
Suzanne Stoms, 48, is charged criminally with endangering the welfare of a child. She was also charged with the following traffic summonses: Drunk Driving, Commercial Driver’s License D.U.I., D.U.I. with Minor Passengers and Reckless Driving.
Police say Stoms’ boyfriend tipped them off around 9:10 a.m. that she could be transporting school children while intoxicated.
ABC Philadelphia affiliate WPVI spoke to the boyfriend at a home address listed for Stoms. He confirmed that he did call the police, but said he didn’t intend for Stoms to get in trouble. He said he was trying to get Stoms help for drinking.
His call to authorities, however, prompted the Franklinville Township, New Jersey Police Department to alert the Clayton, New Jersey Police Department about the tip, which led officers to track Stoms’ bus down. At the time, she had 23 elementary-aged students onboard.
Fran Sperry lives at the intersection near where police conducted a traffic stop of Stoms’ bus. He said he saw the bus pulled over to the side of the road, but thought it was for a motor vehicle accident.
“I seen like three or four cops,” Sperry said. “There was actually, I don’t know if it was an undercover cop or if it was security maybe with the school, but there was a little activity out here.”
Officers had Stoms complete a field sobriety test and later a chemical breath test, both of which she failed, according to a criminal complaint.
“I noticed there was actually a woman sitting behind the driver wheel. I didn’t, at that time, know that there was kids on the bus,” Sperry said.
Parents and loved ones expressed their outrage on the Clayton Police Department’s Facebook page.
One parent wrote, “She picked up my son this morning I am so livid!!!! These are babies!!!!”
Clayton Public School District Superintendent Nikolaus Koutsogiannis sent out a letter to parents telling them that the students onboard Stoms’ bus were safely transported back to school by a substitute bus driver.
A portion of the letter states, “It goes without saying that this is behavior that will not be tolerated, and we will be terminating the employee effective immediately. Due to the fact that this is an ongoing investigation, I am unable to share any additional information.
I want to apologize for the behavior of this employee. The safety of students and staff is always a top priority for our school district. I would like to thank the Clayton Police Department and my administrative team for their quick response to this incident.”
Stoms was released from police custody and is expected to appear in Gloucester County, New Jersey Superior Court on March 21.