Preble Shawnee bus driver cited for OVI after crash; students aboard bus speak out

PREBLE COUNTY — A Preble Shawnee Local Schools bus driver is facing charges of OVI and child endangering after she crashed the bus into a road sign Wednesday morning with students aboard.

The bus driver, identified as 44-year-old Amy L. Jones of Gratis Twp., likely was impaired when the bus struck the sign on Camden Road west of U.S. 127, Sheriff Mike Simpson said in a media release. No children or staff were hurt. Jones was cited for OVI and child endangering and is scheduled to appear Aug. 26 in Preble County Municipal Court.

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Students on the bus said they noticed things were not right with their driver from the start.

“It didn’t feel like her normal self this morning,” senior Bethany Goodwin said.

“She was really slurring her words,” student Hayden Schaffer said.

They said it got worse as the drive went on.

“She was like, all over the road,” Schaffer said.

“It seemed like she was kind of swerving in and out a little bit,” Goodwin said.

At 7 a.m., Crystal Bissantz got a call from her daughter no parent wants, “saying ‘Mom! ... We’ve been in a wreck.’”

The bus hit a sign on Camden Road, which students said shattered a mirror and door on the bus. No one was hurt, but students said they were scared.

“I was shaking and nervous and my heart was racing,” Goodwin said.

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Following the crash the driver took the students back to school. That’s where school leaders and deputies became concerned.

Cruiser camera footage shows Jones wobbling as she took a field sobriety test in what appears to be a bus storage barn. Alcohol was ruled out as a factor in the crash but investigators suspect she was under the influence of something else, Simpson said.

Bissantz said she is relieved her daughter is safe, but has many questions, such as why it took hours to give her any information.

“The communications needs to be better,” she said.

The district activated its call system mid-afternoon to alert parents, which stated: “the bus sustained minor damage and was operable.”

As for students, hearing their driver may have been under the influence is not too surprising.

“I mean, I believe it,” Schaffer said.

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But some students say they can no longer trust that school officials and staff will keep them safe.

“I feel scared now to ride the bus at school,” Goodwin said. “It was just lucky that we were all OK .. and we made it through.”

Jones is on administrative leave pending the investigation, district Superintendent Matt Bishop said in a statement.

“The safety of our students and staff is our number one goal. The district will take whatever action is necessary to uphold that goal,” Bishop said.

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