Woman who OD’d driving school bus wasn’t even its driver, report says
NEWARK — The person who crashed a school bus while allegedly overdosed on what police said was "some kind of narcotic" wasn't meant to be driving the bus at all -- but was instead its aid, the bus company's owner said.
Ahmed Mahgoub of F&A Transportation told WPIX Lisa M. Byrd, 57, of Newark "made her own decision" to drive the bus after its assigned driver was running late in Wednesday's snow.
Mahgoub also said he hasn't been made aware of any evidence she was using illegal drugs, as Newark police allege. He said Byrd had previously told him about a medical issue related to a diabetic condition. .
"The sugar dropped on her, and she went into a coma, he speculated to WPIX.
That doesn't fit with what the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said -- that Byrd had to be revived with Narcan, an antidote for opioids such as heroin and fentanyl that temporarily blocks the body's ability to respond to the drugs. It's used to reverse overdoses, though in some cases, particularly when used to counteract stronger opioids, it can be unsuccessful or require more than one dose.
The Essex County Prosecutor's Office said the bus Byrd was driving a bus that struck a tree just after 1 p.m. at the intersection of 14th Avenue and Jones Street near Springfield Avenue and University Heights.
First responders found Byrd passed out behind the wheel with drugs and paraphernalia, the prosecutor's office said.
The 12 passengers ranged in age between 5 and 13. They attend the Fourteen Street School. They were not seriously injured.
Byrd was charged with 12 counts of child endangerment and driving while impaired.
The prosecutor's office said Byrd's license was suspended from 1996 to 2006 but did not disclose a reason. Itsaid police are investigating the current status of her license and whether or not she had a commercial driver's license, which is required to drive a bus in New Jersey.
It was the second time in two days that a driver had to be revived with naloxone, the drug in Narcan, after a crash in the state.
A day earlier, three people died after suspected drugged driver crashed into a gas station in Wayne.
NBC New York, citing law enforcement sources, reported that Jason Vanderee, 29, of Glenwood, had to be revived with the heroin antidote after his car jumped the curb in front of a Wayne gas station and crashed into several vehicles and a gas station attendant.
Jon Warbeck, 50, and his son Luke, 17, of Lincoln Park, died along with attendant Lovedeep Fatra, 22, of Pequannock.
With previous reporting by Dan Alexander.
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