CROWS LANDING (CBS13) – A fifth-grader in Stanislaus County is being credited with keeping 30 kids safe on their school bus.
Troy Luna, 10, called 911 while his bus driver was behind the wheel, reportedly driving recklessly. Police later said she was high on drugs.
Luna is used to looking out for others. He has eight siblings and knows most of the 150 kids, grades Kindergarten through fifth, at Bonita Elementary in Crows Landing. When he got on the bus after school on Monday, he says something told him to be on high alert.
“I smelled something weird,” he said. He said the smell was coming from his bus driver, Karolyn Denise Ray. It made his classmates on the bus cough.
Luna says Ray had missed a stop and started swerving.
“She stepped on the breaks really hard, and a few kids went flying and hit their heads on the seats,” Luna said.
So, Luna called 911.
“All my friends were trying to talk me out of it. I said, ‘I don’t care, I don’t feel right,’ so I just did it,” he said.
Police met the bus when Ray pulled over to drop off a student. They say she failed a field sobriety test and was charged with driving under the influence of drugs, and endangering the welfare of a child.
“It’s disheartening and appalling,” said District Superintendent Phil Phillpot.
He said Ray works for First Student. He met with the company to discuss what he calls “other options” after this incident.
“I told them we were going to be reevaluating our relationship with First Student,” he said.
Phillpot says he’s proud of this student, and his family is too.
“The whole family is really proud of him,” says Luna’s mom Collette.
Bus drivers are randomly blood tested, but not before every drive. Ray was a substitute bus driver this day, filling in from another district.
First Student issued a statement in regard to their internal investigation:
“Certainly, we understand and appreciate the concern this has caused. We, too, take this incident very seriously. First Student is partnering with local authorities for their investigation of the matter; we also are conducting our own internal review. Consistent with our standard process, the driver was immediately removed from service pending the outcome of the investigation. Given that this is an active investigation, we are unable to comment further.”