The 37-year-old driver was arrested after his bus crashed into a minivan. Both vehicles were carrying special needs students at the time of the accident.
Monday was the last day of school for students at the Lighthouse School in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. It is alleged Erik K. Paulik was driving a small school bus in Tyngsboro during the afternoon. On board the bus were four special needs students and two adult bus monitors. A minivan, with another four special needs students, was driving directly in front of Paulik's bus.
When the minivan stopped at an intersection, it is alleged that Paulik drove his bus into the smaller vehicle. None of the students or adults in the bus and minivan were injured. But the woman driving the minivan was pregnant and the Boston Globe reports she lost the baby as a result of the accident.
My Fox Boston reports that witnesses say the school bus was tailgating the smaller vehicle. After speaking with Paulik, whose eyes were described by police as glassy and bloodshot, the bus driver was given field sobriety tests and had difficulty maintaining his balance. He later provided a breathalyzer reading of .027, more than three times the legal limit in Massachusetts of .08.
Police also found a 20 ounce water bottle on the bus that had traces of alcohol.
Paulik faces charges of operating a vehicle while under the influence and child endangerment. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Lowell District Court.
Karen Vanderbeken, a vice president of Easter Seals, owners of the bus, is quoted in the Boston Herald as saying that background checks, including a driving record check, were done prior to Paulik being hired last Nov. 1. "There were no red flags for us," she said.
Despite the fact there was no evidence Pawlik drove while under the influence before, one of the bus monitors told NECN that sometimes Paulik's driving was erratic. Travis Camire said, The way he has been driving for the past month or so has been sporadic. There's been times when he'd speed, drive really aggressively, he'd ride up really close to other drivers on the highway. He'd honk the horn at them on the move. He had a lot of road rage at times, but there'd be times when he'd be perfectly fine, good.
Pawlik, as well as the two bus monitors, have been placed on administrative suspension.
Bail was set at $3,000 and Pawlik is due back in court for a pretrial hearing on July 17.