By Ben Lawson
Seymour parents and students alike are shocked after a school bus driver took a sports team on a scary ride while allegedly under the influence.
The Seymour High School freshman basketball team was on their way to a game in Rogersville last Thursday when the incident occurred. The bus driver, Jerry Carr Jr., began acting erratically, according to students.
SHS freshman Luke Sharpe indicated that Carr stuck to back roads during the trip and made frequent nonsensical detours, such as through a Food City parking lot, despite concerns expressed by the team’s coach, Daniel Rucker.
“The coach noticed he was acting weird,” Sharpe said. “He wasn’t taking directions.”
Along the way, Carr weaved across the center line, cutting off some cars and forcing others off the road, before finally pulling into a Weigel’s convenience store. Rucker quickly ushered the athletes off the bus.
“We thought he was just messing around at first,” Sharpe said. “The bus was just sitting there for ten minutes in reverse with the alarms going off.”
According to the report released by the Dandridge Police Department, officers responded to call about a drunk driver at approximately 6:30 p.m. and found Carr in the driver’s seat with the engine running.
The officers noted that Carr “appeared to be heavily intoxicated,” with slurred speech, blood shot eyes and a strong alcohol smell. When asked if he had been drinking, Carr said he “had been drinking beer.”
After a sobriety test, in which Carr was reported to have performed poorly, officers attempted to place him under arrest and a struggle ensued with officers forced to put him on the ground to complete the arrest. No one was injured.
Later, having been transported to Jefferson Memorial Hospital for a blood test, Carr again struggled with officers and hospital security, kicking one security guard in the groin. He refused to submit to the blood test.
With their games called off, the students had to wait for parents to arrive. Sharpe said the Weigel’s employees were friendly, offering them free drinks and snacks.
“I was shocked,” said Dee Long, Sharpe’s mother. “Luke called me from Weigel’s and said the game was cancelled because the bus driver was drunk. I couldn’t believe it.”
She added that Carr, who was also a school janitor, had always been nice and was the team’s usual driver to games. But she was equally upset that better measures aren’t in place to prevent something like this from happening.
The students indicated that Carr was nearly 30 minutes late to pick them up, which Long felt should have sent up a warning sign.
“I think it was totally ridiculous,” she said. “The coach made an excellent decision getting them off the bus, but I think they should so something to check every driver before they’re allowed to drive the kids.”
Carr is being held at the Jefferson County Jail under a $40,000 bond after being charged with DUI, violation of implied consent, resisting arrest and reckless endangerment. He has been fired from the school system.
“Coach Rucker did the right thing,” Long said. “They’re all safe and that’s a blessing.”
Bus Driver Charged with DUI
By Ben Lawson