HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE, Ark. (AP) — A woman in west-central Arkansas has been arrested after she was caught drinking 42-percent alcohol while driving a school bus that had more than a dozen students on board.
Anita Jean Cox, 57, was arrested Wednesday and charged with second-degree endangering the welfare of a minor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail, the Sentinel-Record reported.
Fountain Lake Facility Transportation Director Keith Baker contacted a Garland County Sheriff's deputy on Jan. 12 about an incident that occurred on a school bus carrying 16 students the previous night, according to a probable cause affidavit. Fountain Lake Elementary School's assistant principal, Steve Freeman, witnessed that the bus driver "almost had a wreck and seemed to be impaired while driving," the affidavit stated.
The driver, identified as Cox, was transporting students from the Cordova Center in Hot Springs Village to the elementary school, and almost had a head-on collision, according to Freeman.
Freeman saw her driving back and forth across the centerline of the road and in and out of oncoming traffic several times, according to the affidavit.
Security camera footage of the bus showed Cox drinking out of a glass jar containing clear liquid. The State Crime Lab tested the jar's contents last month and found it contained 42-percent ethanol alcohol.
"We're very thankful no one was harmed and that all our students were safe," said Superintendent Michael Murphy. "We are obviously very disappointed, but thankful no one was injured."
Murphy said Thursday that Cox was placed on paid leave after the incident, but Cox submitted her resignation and it was accepted by the Fountain Lake School Board on Jan. 19.
She's been released from jail on $1,000 bond and is set to appear in court this month. Jail records don't immediately list an attorney for Cox.