School Van Driver In Willimantic Facing DUI Charges

A school van driver in Willimantic is facing DUI charges for the accident that happened in September as a result of which 4 students sustained injuries.

According to the police, 52-year-old Catherine Caron was driving a van for the regional education service center EASTCONN when she hit a pole in the area of 90 Quarry Street in Willimantic on 10th of September.

An EASTCONN spokesperson said that 4 children between the ages of 8 and 15 were travelling in the van with Caron, who was driving them to Windham High School and Natchaug Elementary School.

According to a Willimantic resident who identified herself as the students’ grandmother, the day of the accident was the first time the siblings had taken the van to school.

Caron and the students were taken to Windham Hospital and were treated for “bumps and bruises”.

Willimantic police spokesman Cpl. Stan Parizo, Jr. “We were very fortunate with this investigation. This accident could have turned tragic very, very quickly this borderline on egregious behavior. It’s far beyond irresponsible to be under the influence and to be driving around students in a school van”.

Caron was taken into custody on 6th of November and was charged with DUI, possession of a controlled substance and risk of injury.

She was placed on paid administrative leave after the accident she caused and has since been fired from the job, according to EASTCONN.

Representatives for EASTCONN called the situation a “deeply regrettable, concerning event” and said all drivers undergo “an intensive training program” with yearly refreshers. They are fingerprinted and background checked before being hired.

Kristen Morang, the parent of a student who uses EASTCONN transportation said, “I personally think that EASTCONN should probably monitor who they are hiring a little more. If they are not doing random drug testing and alcohol testing, I think they should implement that”.

However, EASTCONN said that a drug-testing program is in place.

According to a spokesperson, “EASTCONN’s Transportation Department requires all of its drivers to participate in a random drug-testing program, which is administered by an outside firm”.

In response to the charges, EASTCONN officials said they are paying attention on their training process and will consider making alterations.

In a statement that was issued on Thursday, EASTCONN said, “As part of our ongoing work to continuously improve training practices and procedures, we are reviewing our driver-training program”.

Caron was released on $10,000 bond and is summoned to court on 17th of November.

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