A bus driver spotted Wednesday morning driving erratically while taking special-needs youngsters to school in New Hope was stopped by the State Patrol and jailed on suspicion of being high on drugs.
Soon after dropping off seven grade-schoolers at the North Education Center Academy, Connie J. Krystofiak, 66, of Hopkins, was pulled over near Interstate 394 and Hopkins Crossroad in Minnetonka thanks to a witness who reported the driver having difficulty staying on the road, according to the State Patrol. Krystofiak remains in the Hennepin County jail without bail pending charges.
About 8:30 a.m., a caller to 911 reported seeing a school bus traveling "on the shoulder and erratically" on Hwy. 169 at Bass Lake Road, not far from the school, said Patrol Lt. Tiffani Nielson.
The caller gave emergency dispatch the license plate, and the number and operator's name on the bus.
A patrol dispatcher called the transportation provider and located the bus after it had left the public school, which serves children from kindergarten to age 21 who have physical or emotional difficulties.
Thanks in part to a state Department of Transportation traffic management camera, two troopers located the bus on westbound I-394 at Hopkins Crossroad, Nielson said.
"The troopers witnessed the bus crossing the fog line and driving on the shoulder," she said.
The bus was stopped, and "the troopers observed indications of impairment" on the part of the driver, according to the lieutenant.
Krystofiak completed field sobriety tests, was arrested and jailed "on suspicion of driving while impaired by drugs," Nielson said.
It will be six to eight weeks before authorities receive the results of toxicology tests administered to the driver, Nielson added.
In a statement sent to families, school officials lauded the motorists who reported their concerns to police.
"There is nothing more important than our students' safety," it said. "We are working with police and will ensure that all appropriate actions are taken."