School Bus Driver Charged With DUI After Manchester Collision

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Melissa Forrest, 36, of Hendee Road, Andover was charged with driving under the influence and following too close, police said. (Courtesy of Manchester Police Department)

MANCHESTER — Police say a school bus driver carrying five students aboard her bus was driving intoxicated when she rear-ended a wheel chair van with her bus on Tuesday.

Melissa Forrest, 36, of Hendee Road, Andover was charged with driving under the influence and following too close, police said. Police said they do not suspect Forrest was drinking, but that she was under the influence of a medication. She submitted to a urine test, but the results are not expected for several weeks, said Manchester police Capt. Chris Davis.

Forrest was driving a bus with five students from Rockville High School’s vocational agriculture program. The students were all Bolton residents and police said they are not sure why Forrest was driving on Main Street in Manchester at the time of the accident. Neither the students on the bus or the three people on board the wheel chair van reported being injured, police said.

Police were looking for the bus after a motorist called police to report it was driving erratically on West Middle Turnpike. Police checked the area, but could not find the bus.

A short time later they responded to the accident on Main Street near Bennett Academy.

Forrest was released without having to post bail and is due in court Sept. 30 in Manchester.

The bus is owned by First Student and based at the company’s Manchester depot. An employee there referred calls to company’s corporate office, which has not responded to a request for comment.

Vernon Superintendent of Schools Mary Conway said the bus was under contract with the Bolton Board of Education to transport Bolton students to Rockville High. Conway said she learned of the crash Tuesday and spoke with parents, but did not find out until Wednesday morning that the driver was charged with driving under the influence.

She said she was troubled by the “lack of communication from the company. We knew nothing about it.”

Bolton Superintendent Kristin B. Heckt could not be reached for comment.

“They live in Bolton, but they are our students,” Conway said. “We need to assure their safety.”

By David Owens, Hartford Courant

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