Lisa Byrd, a 57-year old woman driving a school bus with special needs students onboard, passed out after allegedly overdosing on heroin and crashed the bus into a tree. She has since been charged. However, new developments claim that she apparently just had a complication from her diabetes medication and was actually a school bus aide, not a school driver.
A surveillance camera captured a video of the slow-speed collision that happened around 1:10 p.m. last Wednesday. Police said Byrd was transporting 12 students with special needs, aged 5 to 13, home from the 14th Avenue School.
In the video, it can be seen that the driver crossed an intersection and bumped into a tree during the snowstorm.
None of the 12 students were injured.
Meanwhile, police said that the driver was unconscious behind the wheel when they arrived at the scene. Byrd had to be given a shot of Narcan, which is usually an antidote to opioid overdose, to revive her.
Byrd was arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, driving while impaired, and 12 counts of endangering the welfare of a child, police said. She is currently being held at the Essex County Jail.
However, investigators are looking on a different angle after Ahmed Mahgoub, the owner of the school bus company F&A Transportation, said that Byrd was actually a school bus aide. He told PIX11 News that the driver on the route where Byrd was assigned as an aide was running late so Byrd decided to drive the bus.
Mahgoub also claimed he didn’t know Byrd was using illegal drugs. He added that his company does random drug tests on their employees and Byrd’s latest test turned out negative for all narcotic substances. Instead, he said Byrd told him many times before that she has diabetes and her medications were not working properly.
“The sugar dropped on her,” Mahgoub theorized, “and she went into a coma.”
In line with that, the Narcan used to revive Byrd can also be used to revive a hypoglycemic patient, as speculated by Mahgoub. Other witnesses on the scene also believe Byrd was not high and it was not an overdose.
Still, police believe Byrd overdosed on heroin and they found drug paraphernalia in the bus. An investigation is still ongoing.
While waiting for the results of the investigation, F&A Transportation has been suspended by Newark Public Schools from driving buses along the route where Byrd is usually an aide.