The driver of a D.C. school bus has been fired after being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol by police who said they found his yellow bus abandoned on a busy street in Capitol Hill with three children and an aide aboard.
Fritz Gerald Aubin, 55, of Northwest Washington has been released from jail pending his next hearing in D.C. Superior Court on Jan. 8. Both he and his attorney, Carrie Crawford, declined to comment.
Aubin had been an employee of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, which operates school buses for D.C. students with disabilities. Spokeswoman Athena Hernandez said Aubin was fired for “multiple violations” after an investigation.
The incident occurred about 8:30 a.m. Oct. 7 in the 900 block of Pennsylvania Avenue SE, near Eastern Market. The case attracted new attention Tuesday when D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier briefly discussed it during her monthly appearance on NewsChannel 8 with Bruce DePuyt. WJLA-TV (Channel 7) aired a story last week.
Lanier said that when the driver returned to the bus to find a police officer, he “obviously was under the influence of something.” She said officers feared he planned to continue driving. “Fortunately nobody was hurt in this case, but the potential was there,” she said.
The first clue that something was amiss, according to police, was that the bus had seemingly been abandoned in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue, with the children and their adult attendant aboard.
When the driver returned, police said, his uniform was dirty and disheveled. He was talkative, nervous “and unable to stand still,” police said in a court document.
The driver told police that he had gotten diesel to fill up the empty tank but was holding a red gasoline can. Diesel must be poured into cans that are yellow. And when he tried to fill the tank, police said, he “spilled the majority of the gas on the ground.”
Police charged him with driving under the influence of alcohol and operating a vehicle while impaired. Court documents say that he consented to a urine tests to determine his blood alcohol content; the results have not been made public.
The police affidavit said that the bus driver consented to field sobriety tests, telling Officer David Hong, “Sure, I didn’t do anything.” He also told the officer, “I play jazz. I was in New York last night,” according to the affidavit.