Days after a New Jersey school bus driver was arrested after she was involved in a crash with a dozen special-needs children aboard, new information is emerging about her possible condition at the time of the incident.
57-year-old Lisa Byrd was behind the wheel on the afternoon of February 20 when she apparently lost consciousness and drove into a tree.
Emergency personnel arrived at the scene and reportedly administered Narcan in the belief that she might have overdosed on narcotics. She was transported from the scene to an area hospital and arrested on suspicion of criminal counts including driving while impaired, possessing drug paraphernalia, and 12 counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
According to KFOR, however, Byrd was a school bus aid who was only filling in for a regular bus driver on the snow day. According to Ahmed Mahgoub, the owner of F&A Transportation, her employer, she had mentioned an underlying diabetic condition for which she said her medication had not been effective in treating.
“The sugar dropped on her, and she went into a coma,” he theorized, noting that he had no previous knowledge of any allegations that she abused drugs.
Mahgoub does hold her responsible for getting behind the wheel with a potentially dangerous health issue.
“She made her own decision,” he said, adding that he performs random drug tests on employees and Byrd’s tested negative across the board at her last test.
At least one witness at the scene noted last week that he was skeptical that the driver was overdosing.
“It looked like she was having a stroke or something or a heart attack or something,” Sherod Jones said. “She was stuck. When that bus started to move, you saw the lady’s arms going down slow like if she was coming out of it; the lady’s eyes were wide open.”
Another witness flatly stated the belief that Byrd did not appear to be experiencing an overdose at the time of the crash.
“She was not high,” Jones said at the time.
Still, police reports show officers found drug paraphernalia on the bus. She is set to appear in court this week. Newark Public Schools has since suspended F&A Transportation from operating buses for schools in the district.
[Featured image: Lisa Byrd, Newark Police Department]