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School bus driver arrested for DUI: “We went out for my birthday”

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Walton County, Georgia — A metro Atlanta bus driver faces serious charges after allegedly driving a school bus drunk with dozens of children on it.

Exclusive video shows some tense moments on the Walton County school bus early Monday morning.

Ashton Anderson, 16, was riding on the bus in route to Loganville High School when he said he began to fear for his life.

“We got to the ‘S’ curve is what we like to call it, heading toward Highway 20, and she’s going 60 to 70 mph from what it seemed like, and she kind of turned into the ditch because it’s pure ditch there, and she hit a driveway and we started to wobble,” Anderson said.

Several students contacted their parents who then notified the school system. Minutes later, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office arrested the driver, Carole Ann Ethridge.

“I asked her why she was driving like this and she said, I don’t feel well,” Anderson said.

Deputies found several open containers of alcohol, including tequila, inside her purse, WXIA reports.

“We went out for my birthday,” she told police during an interview. “We just had a couple beers and a couple shots of tequila. Probably the tequila is what gets it—cause it’s strong.”

Ethridge is charged with DUI while driving 31 children to school and 16 counts of child endangerment for every one of them under the age of 14. Deputies found Ethridge in possession of bottles of tequila and vodka at the time of her arrest.

“We take student safety as a top priority here and the district will not tolerate behavior that jeopardizes our student safety,” Walton County School District spokesperson Callen Moore said.

CBS46 went to Ethridge’s home to question her about her actions, but no one answered.

“I was scared for my life. We went up that road and I thought we were all going to die,” Anderson said.

The school district fired Ethridge immediately following her arrest. CBS46 checked her criminal history, but she has no prior arrests in Walton County.

She has since posted bond.