Bath, PA – An allegedly drunk Pennsylvania school bus driver told her student passengers to “go f--k themselves” and left them sitting in a gas station parking lot on Friday.
Lori Mankos, 44, abandoned a school bus with 26 students in a Sunoco parking lot after terrified students asked her to pull over, according to WFMZ.
Students told police that it all began when they got on the bus after school at about 2:50 p.m. on March 1.
Mankos picked up the students from a Northampton Area School District middle school and high school and began the route as usual, according to The Morning Call.
Stephanie Shiller, an 8th grader at Northampton, was one of more than 30 students Mankos picked up with Bus No. 21.
Shiller told The Morning Call that Mankos had only begun driving the school bus route on Feb. 18.
“She was fun when she first started driving us, but then she started getting weird,” the 8th grader said. “I don’t know, she just seemed a little too friendly.”
Schiller said that on Friday, Mankos started skipping stops on the route home, and driving on the wrong side of the road, The Morning Call reported.
"When there was a turn, a right-hand turn and when she took it she was going far too fast," another student on the bus, Mason Persiani, told WFMZ. "She ended up being halfway into the opposing lane of traffic."
Some students on the bus made jokes about Mankos’ driving and asked her to get off the bus, but other students said they were truly frightened, according to WJW.
Persiani told WFMZ that was when Mankos told the students to “go f--k themselves” and gave them all the middle finger.
“We were freaking out,” Shiller told The Morning Call. “We didn’t know if she was drunk or what.”
After some back and forth with the scared and angry students, Mankos said she had had enough, according to WFMZ.
“She said, ‘You kids are making me quit my job after two weeks.’ She drove over a bunch of potholes. I thought I was gonna fall outta my seat. I almost hit my head on another seat,” Shiller said.
Then Mankos pulled the bus into the parking lot of a Sunoco station and parked it.
Students told WFMZ that she refused to let anyone get off the bus through the front door, so one of the students pulled the emergency handle and opened the back door.
Shiller said that after she got off the bus, she realized the bus driver was really leaving them stranded at the gas station.
“After I got off, I looked back and that’s when I saw her running away from the bus and just leaving us there,” she said.
Students said that Mankos got off the bus at about 3 p.m. and gave a gas station employee the keys to the bus before she took off, WFMZ reported.
Some parents came and picked up their children at the gas station and the rest were taken home by another bus driver who arrived at the scene.
“I got a text from Stephanie saying her school bus driver had abandoned the kids,” Shiller’s father, Stephen Shiller, told The Morning Call. “After I went there and picked her up, I started making calls.”
He said the school was unhelpful and transferred him to the bus company, and that nobody there seemed to know what was going on, but promised to investigate.
“If the kids are giving you a hard time, you don’t just abandon them like that,” the parent said. “You’re the adult. You call for another bus and wait there until that bus arrives.”
Pennsylvania State Police found Mankos at home after the incident, and took her into custody, according to WFMZ.
The now-former bus driver was charged with driving under the influence and 26 counts of endangering the welfare of children.
Mankos is employed by First Student, the company contracted for transportation services by the school district.
“This is not what we expect of any of our drivers,” First Student Spokesman Jay Brock said in a statement. “We don’t know the details of what happened, but we’re partnering with [the state police at Bethlehem] on their investigation into this incident as well as conducting our own investigation.”
“Our first priority is the safety of the students, which is why we sent a reliever bus to pick them up and take them to their homes once we found they were stranded. All students are safe and accounted for,” Brock continued. “If there’s appropriate action warranted against the driver as a result of this investigation, that action will be taken.”