Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Protecting The Lives of Children

"We don't have the right to check, we don't have the right to intervene, to see whether this check has been made."
"They [the bus company] guarantee that it has been done."
"If I could talk to them, I would tell them [school staff] 'Bravo'. It took courage and it may have saved the lives of children."
School trustee Jacques Lemay -- Saint-Paul Elementary School, Gatineau

"We've never had reason not to trust them [drivers]."
Transport 5M.A
Gatineau school van operator had four times legal blood-alcohol limit: police
Teachers from Saint-Paul Elementary School on Isabella Street in Gatineau, stopped and held the driver of a school van carrying kids because they say he was drunk.  Photograph by: Chris Mikula , Ottawa Citizen
This was a new driver for Transport 5M.A, operator of the school busing enterprise. The employee, Stephane Larose of Gatineau had provided information assuring them he had a clean record. Theirs is a small company, the spokeswoman said, and they hadn't gone to the trouble of an official check that would most certainly have revealed their new employee's impaired driving conviction dated 2009. But they trust the veracity of those who apply to them for employment.

It was actually one of their own drivers, of a full-sized yellow school bus who it appears had been the first to notice the van driver's strange driving performance. It seems the bus driver sent a radio message to his dispatcher to alert the school where the van was headed toward. So the teachers were presumably alerted before the Dodge Caravan arrived on Monday afternoon to return children to their homes, after school.

One teacher ran  into the street to halt the van as it left the school, allowing the teachers with him to restrain the driver who seemed passive enough in response. They held him until the arrival of police. And the children between five and ten years of age were taken out of the van. Police, in administering a breathalyzer found that 47-year-old Mr. Larose had four times the legal limit of alcohol in his body.

Because of his previous conviction for drunk driving his licence was also invalid. School trustees entrusted the job of ensuring drivers are properly licensed to the private bus operators, as part of their business and legal protocol. But it appears that that very vital protocol was overlooked, even as the trustees were inferring it had been done and the bus company did nothing to abuse them of that notion.

On the very same day Ontario Provincial Police in nearby Huron County one province away, pulled over a bus that had ten elementary schoolchildren on board. Onlookers had alerted police that the bus appeared to be swerving into oncoming traffic. A roadside test of the 50-year-old driver attested to a degree of alcohol impairment within the "warn-range". And that driver was given a three-day licence suspension.

Trusting, aren't we?

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