School bus driver accused of driving under influence of drugs released on bond

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(Photo: Boulder County Sheriff's Office)

(Photo: Boulder County Sheriff's Office)

BOULDER, Colo. -- A driver who rolled a school bus with eight students on board while allegedly under the influence of drugs bonded out of the Boulder County jail on Tuesday.

A judge advised Elizabeth Burris, 39, of the 17 criminal charges against her earlier in the day, including several felonies of child abuse and vehicular assault.

“The bus tipped to one side, then another side, then just fell over,” Lyons Middle School student Levi Benter said.

“My seat was up on the roof basically. I fell completely down,” Lyons Elementary fourth-grader Tyler Fillweber said.

Students recounted the frightening ride that ended with their bus on its side on Highway 7 near mile marker 25.

“(Burris) was crazy. She was scared. She was still confused that that happened,” said student Corbyn Fillweber, who also attends Lyons Middle School.

Her confusion was still apparent in her disheveled mugshot Monday night.

Confusion turned to calm for the 39-year-old when she was in court, where her hands were shackled and she looked straight ahead the whole time.

Burris told the Colorado State Patrol that she didn’t remember why the crash happened, only that she drifted off the road, tried to gain control and overcorrected.

In an arrest affidavit, the State Patrol said Burris showed indications “of drug impairment and stated that she was on about six different prescription medications.” She then “consented to voluntary roadside maneuvers and did not perform them as instructed.”

"She was really upset. After the crash, she was mad at herself,” Benter said.

But the parents who entrusted her to carry their kids to and from school in safety are far from angry.

“They really like the bus driver. Her name’s Elizabeth and she played awful country music, from what my son tells me. But they like her a lot. I’m glad she’s OK,” says Benter’s mother, Janet.

A prosecutor asked the judge to ban Burris from driving a school bus. But the judge said it was unnecessary for the court to get involved in that decision.

The St. Vrain Valley School District said Burris has worked for it for two years and is on leave during the investigation.

Five children went to the hospital after the crash with two suffering serious but nonlife-threatening injuries.

The judge set the bond at $2,500 because Burris has lived in the community for 26 years and has no criminal record.