A school bus driver was arrested for investigation of DUI after the bus he was driving crashed into a light pole in a parking lot at Gateway Plaza, injuring five children.
The accident happened about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday near 500 West and 100 North. Nineteen children all about 8 years old and six counselors from the Jewish Community Center were taking a field trip to the children's museum at The Gateway.
Some of the counselors told the Deseret News the bus seemed to be going faster than the speed limit just before the crash. The driver, who works for Serv A-Bus, went into the north parking lot and was attempting a turn when the front left side of the bus smashed into the large cement base of a light pole, causing heavy damage to the vehicle's front end.
Everyone on the bus was thrown forward into the seat in front of them or to the ground, said a counselor who did not want to be identified. All of the children were crying and were immediately evacuated off the bus, he said.
After the accident, the driver walked away, said Salt Lake police detective Jeff Bedard. After about 30 minutes, police dispatchers were able to reach the man on his cell phone and told him to return to the crash scene immediately.
Jon Hoffman, 51, was tested and eventually arrested for investigation of DUI. Hoffman was a seasonal worker for Cottonwood Heights-based Serv A-Bus, a private school bus company.
The Deseret News informed Georgia Brady, whose husband owns the business, shortly after Hoffman's arrest.
"If that is the case, he's through," said Brady, who had not yet received official word from police. "I've never had a driver in a situation like this before. We've never ever had a problem like this before. We have a good reputation."
The company provides charter and private schools with bus service, as well as church and youth groups, Brady said. Drivers face the same screening process as bus drivers for any of the state's school districts, she said.
"We have to comply with all the laws and regulations like anyone else," Brady said.
Three children involved in Tuesday's crash were cut, either on their lip, forehead or nose. Others complained of their heads hurting and feeling nauseous. One was taken to a local hospital as a precaution. A total of five children were injured, Bedard said.
Andrew Alcabes, executive director of the Jewish Community Center, said the children were doing well Tuesday night. JCC staff was used to shuttle children for the rest of the day and the center has already contracted with a new bus company, she said.
"It did shake our confidence," Alcabes said. "We've already contracted with somebody else for tomorrow. It made us feel a little better."The crash remained under investigation.