Authorities are investigating whether a Lafayette Parish school bus driver was drunk when he ran off the road and into a ditch while bringing a load of elementary-age children to school Thursday morning.
Four children had minor injuries, which paramedics were able to treat on-site, according to Damon Evans, transportation director for the Lafayette Parish School System.
The bus driver, 50-year-old John Harvey Bernard, of Lafayette, was suspended with pay pending the outcome of an investigation into the incident, Evans said.
Eleven Katharine Drexel Elementary School students were on the bus when Bernard ran off the road and into a ditch at La Flamme and St. Nazaire roads in Broussard, Evans said.
He said a mother and her child, who were waiting for the bus near the accident, went to the scene to help.
School officials contacted the students’ parents after the accident, all of whom opted to pick up their children from the accident site rather than have another bus ferry them to school, he said.
The bus driver initially told deputies that he ran off the road to avoid an oncoming vehicle, said Capt. John Babin, Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman. But investigators later determined that information was not accurate.
Bernard, who was cited for careless operation of a vehicle, submitted a blood sample to determine his blood-alcohol content at the time of the 7:15 a.m. accident, Babin said.
It could be weeks before those results are available.