Former school bus driver Shelly Joy Kolodychuk (second from left) leaves Red Deer provincial courthouse on Wednesday surrounded by supporters. Kolodychuk pleaded guilty to driving with a blood alcohol content over .08 while driving her bus with 18 students aboard on June 5.

School bus driver pleads guilty to driving drunk

A Red Deer school bus driver who pleaded guilty on Wednesday to driving drunk was more than double over the legal alcohol limit when she drove 18 students home in June.

Shelly Joy Kolodychuk, 42, pleaded guilty to driving with a blood alcohol level over .08 in Red Deer provincial court. She is due to be sentenced on Nov. 6.

Eighteen students from École Barrie Wilson School were on Kolodychuk’s bus when she collided with a stop sign and a tree on Valley Green about 4 p.m. on June 5. No one was injured.

Crown prosecutor Ed Ring said the bus also drove up on to the sidewalk for a “few metres” and was seen swerving on the street by witness Kurt Stenberg.

The Red Deer fire-medic jumped in his truck and found the school bus nearby. He got out and confronted the driver and then parked his vehicle so the bus could not pull away.

Stenberg, who was not sure if a medical condition was involved, phoned 911.

Ring said a police officer who arrived on the scene said Kolodychuk was crying, her speech was slurred and he detected a “slight smell of liquor” on her breath. A drink cup smelling of alcohol and some sort of fruity drink was found next to her in the bus.

Kolodychuk was arrested and taken to the Red Deer RCMP detachment. Her speech, motor skills and movement were slow police noticed.

Two breathalyzer readings were taken, both .200 — 2 1/2 times the legal limit of .08.

Charges of impaired operation of a motor vehicle, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and failing to remain at the scene of a collision are expected to be withdrawn by the Crown prosecutor.

A pre-sentence report is to be prepared to help the judge in sentencing. Kolodychuk had no prior criminal record.

Kolodychuk, who was joined by more than half a dozen supporters in court, did not speak.

Asked by Judge Bert Skinner if Kolodychuk agreed with the Crown prosecutor’s statement of facts, defence lawyer Will Willms replied, “Your honour, she accepts these circumstances.”

Supporters later formed a protective circle around Kolodychuk as she left the courthouse. Several of them hugged her before she left.

pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

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