Kauai bus driver arrested while taking kids to school

Lawrence Koth

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A bus driver on Kauai has been removed from his position after being arrested for driving under the influence while taking kids to school.

The incident happened Thursday morning during the bus driver’s route to Kapaa Middle School.

It all started when witnesses called 911, telling dispatchers about a school bus swerving on the road.

Just before 7:30 a.m., police in Kapaa see something suspicious. They saw a school bus weaving down a road. Police tried to pull over the driver, 74-year-old Lawrence Koth, on Olohena Road. But he sideswiped a parked boat and trailer.

“It’s unfortunate that there was a bus incident, an accident that occurred when students were being picked up on their morning route,”  State Department of Education Complex Area Superintendent Bill Arakaki said.

Koth was given a field sobriety test and failed, then arrested for OVUII. But the county says the incident does not appear to be alcohol-related and police are waiting on test results.

KHON2 talked to a local attorney about the laws.

“You cannot have a drug in your system that is a controlled substance, so that’s all your prescription drugs pretty much as well as your street drugs,” attorney Victor Bakke said.

The school bus company, Akita Enterpises, says it has no comment at this time, but did verify they do annual driving abstracts and criminal clearances for all staff and report that to the Department of Education.

The DOE says it also does background checks including criminal and traffic records.

“Should more be done, should bus drivers be tested for drugs?” KHON2 asked.

“People don’t like that idea of Big Brother forcing them to take a test, but when they are granted that type of responsibility. They also have to take some accountability,” Bakke said.

The four students who were on the bus at the time were not hurt and made it to Kapaa Middle School. Arakaki says in a case like this, the driver is immediately removed and school officials will consider its future with the bus company.

“This is a concern for us, priority is safety of the children, and it’s very unfortunate that this occurred,” Arakaki said.

Koth was released from police custody after posting bail. Police and the DOE continue to investigate this incident.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving says driving under the influence is a selfish decision.

They believe it’s not just about endangering your life, but in this case, the lives of others.

Child safety is a major concern for parents and it’s difficult for parents to know who they can trust with their kids.

They hope it serves as a good reminder as we get closer to the Labor Day holiday.

“Holidays, we’re seeing a lot of people going out on the beach and things like that. It’s a good reminder that if you are drinking while you’re out with your family or your friends on the beach, have a couple of beers, and then drive your own kids home. It’s a good reminder if this kind of a story scares you, there is something you can do. Take care of your own family when they’re with you,” MADD Hawaii Executive Director Abigail Nickell said.

MADD Hawaii has a zero tolerance policy and believes the DOE should be just as strict with its policies.

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