A bus driver who crashed with 12 special needs children on board may have suffered a diabetic coma, not a drug overdose, according to her boss.
Ahmed Mahgoub, the owner of the bus company F&A Transportation in New Jersey, said 57-year-old Lisa Byrd, a school bus aide, was behind the wheel. He said she wasn’t a driver, WPIX reported.
“She drove the bus,” he told the station.
It's been discovered that the woman behind the wheel was actually a bus aide, not a bus driver. Some also believe she might have had a reaction to a medical condition.
Last week, Byrd was arrested after she allegedly drove under the influence of drugs. First responders at the scene had to use Narcan, an opioid-reversal agent, to revive the woman.
But Mahgoub said she had told him about a medical issue related to a diabetic condition, adding that she also told him her diabetes medication was not working properly, without elaborating.
“The sugar dropped on her, and she went into a coma,” Mahgoub speculated.
WPIX noted that Narcan can be used to revive a hypoglycemic patient, which Mahgoub speculated Byrd is.
And some witnesses said that she wasn’t under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash.
“She wasn’t moving, talking, nothing, but she was up breathing” said Sharod Jones, a person who arrived on the scene of the crash in Newark at around 1 p.m. on Feb. 20.
“It looked like she was having a stroke or something or a heart attack or something,” he added, Crime Online reported.
Police said the driver was unconscious behind the wheel when they arrived at the scene and needed to be revived with a shot of Narcan.
“She was not high,” he said.
“I don’t think it was [an] overdose,” added another witness to WPIX.
She “couldn’t move, like she was having a heart attack or a stroke,” said another person to NBC Philadelphia.
Mahgoub, however, said she was filling in for a regular bus driver on a snow day and “made her own decision” to drive on that day. The owner said he performs regular drug tests on drivers, saying Byrd’s last tests showed that she wasn’t on any drugs.
“[A]t the end of the day, I hold her responsible. She drove without any authorization,” Mahgoub told NBC Philadelphia.
“She’s not that kind of person,” he said of the allegations of drug usage. “I see her everyday—she’s fine.”
According to police reports cited by CrimeOnline, officers discovered drug paraphernalia on the bus.
A family member said she took medication for a number of illnesses, including diabetes and high blood pressure.
“My mother loved the kids,” her son told NBC. “She got a bag of snacks on the bus, she spent money out of her pocket, to give kids snacks and keep them at ease on the bus.”
“I don’t believe it,” he added of the drug allegations. “Like, my mom in the past, 90s, maybe. But that’s my mom, you know? And I wouldn’t want to see her in that light.”
A woman who was revived with Narcan after crashing a school bus in NJ isn’t the kind of person who would use drugs or get behind the wheel impaired, and had several medical conditions, family members and the owner of the bus company that employed her say. https://t.co/Bq6DMtncFZ
— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) February 22, 2019
Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said the special needs students, who were ages 5 to 13, weren’t hurt. The bus appeared to cross a street and bump into a tree during a snowstorm, according to another WPIX report.
Ambrose described the situation as “irresponsible and heinous.”
In the NBC report, Ambrose said her license was suspended in 1996 and 2006, but he didn’t say for what reasons.
Byrd is slated to appear in court this week. It’s not clear if she has an attorney.
Meanwhile, Newark Public Schools suspended F&A Transportation from operating buses in the school district.
She was charged with child endangerment, driving while impaired, and possession of drug paraphernalia.