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Bus driver accused of beer drinking on the job

October 23, 2008 2:51:46 PM PDT
Bus number 31 sat in a parking lot on Thursday. On Wednesday, the bus was surrounded by police who pulled over the driver after a half hour search.

James Pruitt was spotted allegedly drinking a beer before heading out on his afternoon route. Besides being arrested, Pruitt has been fired by his shocked employer.

The 43-year old worked for Vel Coach of Pearl River for the last two years. His route was shuttling students from Rockland County to Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, New Jersey. Under New York law, busing must be provided for private school students who live within a 15 mile radius.

Police say the chain of events started when Pruitt allegedly bought a beer at a supermarket in Pearl River. The woman behind him on line called 9-1-1 and told police she saw him drink it in the parking lot. By the time police found the bus, Pruitt had made his pickup and was back in Rockland with one student left on board. That 15-year old was driven home by police.

Administrators at Bergen Catholic say they have no control over who drives buses contracted by public school districts. They have asked that Pruitt never drive its students again.

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