NEW HOPE, Minn. (KMSP) - A 66-year-old school bus driver was arrested on the suspicion of driving while impaired by drugs shortly after dropping students off at a school in New Hope, according to State Patrol.
Connie Jean Krystofiak of Hopkins was booked at Hennepin County Jail, but has since been released. She has not been charged yet.
On Wednesday at 8:30 a.m., the dispatch center received a 911 call that a school bus was driving erratically and on the shoulder on Highway 169 at Bass Lake Road. While the caller couldn't follow the bus, the person reported the license plate, bus number, and bus company.
After contacting the bus company, Mainline Transportation Inc, State Patrol discovered the driver had just dropped off seven elementary-aged children at North Education Center Academy School in New Hope. The Academy is part of Intermediate District 287, which serves students with learning disabilities.
Troopers found the bus heading westbound on I-394 at Hopkins Crossroad and stopped the bus when they saw it cross the fog line and drive on the shoulder.
Officials say Krystofiak completed the field sobriety tests and showed signs of impairment. A search warrant obtained by Fox 9 showed Krystofiak had 14 methadone pills, 1.5 capsules of methocarbonal (a muscle relaxer) and one alprazolam (Xanax).
Message to students' families
Officials from Intermediate District 287 sent out the following message to families in regards to the bus incident:
"Hello, families. We're calling to let you know about a bus incident this morning. While a bus was traveling on Highway 169, several motorists noticed that the bus was swerving and reported it to police. After transporting students to North Education Center, the driver was stopped by the state patrol and investigated. We are incredibly thankful that all students arrived at school safely. We are also appreciative of the motorists who reported their concerns to police. There is nothing more important than our students’ safety. We are working with police and will ensure that all appropriate actions are taken. Thank you and have a good evening."
Statement from Mainline Transportation Inc.
"The driver in question was arrested, but has not been convicted of any charges. The investigating officer stated that the driver is eligible to drive a school bus after being released. Mainline Transportation Inc. (MTI) will not allow the driver to operate a school bus until the State Patrol's investigation has been completed. MTI has, and will continue to follow all State and Federal laws which include pre-employment, random drug screening, and strict BCA background checks. This driver has passed and maintained all requirements; MTI has had no reason to believe that this has changed prior to todays' incident. MTI will respect the privacy of the driver during investigation and continue to fully cooperate with the State Patrol. MTI has served the nearby communities for over 45 years as a private school bus contractor."