Sitka school bus driver charged with DUI and child endangerment

(KCAW file photo)

A Sitka school bus driver has been charged with driving under the influence and child endangerment after police say she drove her school bus the wrong way on Edgecumbe Drive and hit a parked car on Feb. 25.

In a statement released Monday, police said Kristi M. Coltharp, 61, had been charged with one count of driving under the influence and one count of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree. The statement said Coltharp was ferrying 21 school children when she lost control of her bus.

Police said the bus was seen shortly before 3 p.m. traveling in the wrong lane of Edgecumbe Drive, nearly striking a marked police car and hitting a parked vehicle and a stop sign. Police chased Coltharp, who eventually came to a stop but not before veering into several sidewalks and curbs.

Police said Coltharp had a breath alcohol level of 0.17 % – more than twice the legal limit of .08 — and failed a field sobriety test.

No injuries were reported. Sitka School District Superintendent Frank Hauser confirmed that the bus was pulled over after leaving Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School.

“Keet Gooshi Heen Principal Casey Demmert was notified immediately, and he and staff assisted students and contacted families impacted by this incident,” Hauser said. “He and staff reached out to all impacted families yesterday.”

Hauser said the district has no information beyond what was provided by police. He said the district is cooperating with the investigation.

In an email to elementary school parents, Hauser said Coltharp is not a Sitka School District employee. The district website lists Island Bus Company as the contractor providing bus services for the district.

Police said Coltharp is ordered to appear in court on March 1.

KCAW - Sitka

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