GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. -- A bus driver for Cherry Creek Schools was arrested and accused of DUI on Thursday afternoon, the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office said.
The sheriff's office arrested Michael Hobbs, 54, after he arrived at a bus stop near 6700 E. Costilla Ave. He had made a trip with 30 students on board from West Middle School, a school district spokeswoman said.
Tustin Amole said staff thought they smelled alcohol, but Hobbs didn't show signs of intoxication when he picked up the students at the school to take them home.
"To err on the correct side she called transportation at that point his bus had been loaded and he had taken off," Amole said.
A mother whose child was on the school bus wondered why he was allowed to drive away at all.
"When it's children involved, I would think erring on the side of caution would mean to not allow those children to be driven on a school bus that you think the driver's impaired," the woman said.
Amole said around that time, Hobbs arrived at his only stop for the trip. Paramedics were called and they didn't notice any signs of intoxication.
"What concerned me the most was that the teachers had smelled alcohol on the driver's breath and yet they allowed him to leave the property," the mother said.
"No one observed him walking or talking erratically. Our surveillance video on the bus does not show him driving erratically," Amole said.
An Arapahoe County deputy said during a roadside sobriety test that Hobbs was unable to walk straight, perform simple tasks, had bloodshot and watery eyes, and smelled like alcohol.
After first denying it, Hobbs told the deputy he had a beer at lunch. He also told the deputy that he was taking medication.
He was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and child abuse. He was out of jail Friday night and due back in court on April 28.
Amole said Hobbs has been with Cherry Creek Schools since Oct. 12. He is on paid administrative leave while the sheriff's office conducts its investigation.
West Middle School principal Kate Bergles sent a letter to parents on Thursday:
I was informed at approximately 4:40 pm that the driver of bus 635, the regular route in the afternoons, was arrested for DUI this afternoon. The driver had dropped off all students. Immediately upon receiving information, CCSD transportation alerted Arapahoe County law enforcement who met the driver at the bus. The driver was arrested at that time on suspicion of driving under the influence. The driver has been placed on administrative leave.
Bus 635 is one of three serving the Homestead neighborhood. I sent an automated message this evening at 6:20 p.m. to all families who have children on that bus. I have spoken to several families individually as well.
I am saddened by this incident and I feel deeply for the families who have children on that route. There is shock, pain, and anxiety with anything that endangers those you love - especially children who rely on their school adults to be the best.
If you have questions or concerns regarding this incident, please call 720-554-5180.
Principal, West Middle School