School Bus Driver Loses License After Student-Involved DUI Accident in Haverhill

Shawn McCarthy appears during arraignment in Haverhill District Court on May 17, 2019. (WHAV News photograph)

An Exeter, N.H. man tasked with transporting a Haverhill girl to and from school was arrested Thursday afternoon after police say he was driving while under the influence of drugs before getting into a rush hour accident on a busy stretch of River Street.

Appearing before Haverhill District Court Judge Patricia Dowling at arraignment Friday, NRT Bus Company driver Shawn P. McCarthy was stripped of his license and ordered held on $1,000 bail after Haverhill Police arrested him in the wake of an accident that left a 13-year-old girl with non-life threatening injuries.

Just before 5:30 on Thursday, Haverhill Officer Caitlin Beardsley-Brady responded to the Walgreen’s parking lot on River Street to find McCarthy’s NRT school van still running with the sliding door open and right tire falling off the rim. According to the officer, McCarthy, who had a small cut on his head, told her with slurred speech that he didn’t know where his young charge was and was just worried about his flat tire.

Asked how the accident happened, McCarthy stared at Beardsley-Brady for several seconds before telling her he didn’t know. When asked to provide his driver’s license and registration, he supplied a random business card and medical examiner’s certificate.

Further investigation into the accident and interviews with witnesses determined that McCarthy—found to be in possession of six peach pills believed to be Ambien—was transporting the girl from Lowell’s Bartlett Middle School when he began to drive “in an erratic manner” on the highway.

Beardsley-Brady said the girl “told Shawn to slow down and focus on the road, to which he said he was. She became so scared that she started to beg Shawn to pull over and (when) he finally pulled over into the Walgreen’s parking lot, she grabbed Shawn’s cell phone to call her mother for help.”

Fellow drivers called into NRT dispatch to report McCarthy’s driving, and the company touched base with him prior to his stop at Walgreen’s, police said. At the drugstore, the girl’s parents met her and found McCarthy “unable to formulate complete sentences or explain what happened.”

Questioned by police at the drugstore, McCarthy said he is diabetic and recently had his medication adjusted. Trinity EMS personnel determined his blood sugar levels to be normal. During field sobriety testing, McCarthy could not maintain balance or count consecutively, police said. In regards to the Ambien pills found in his van, McCarthy told police he did—and later did not—have a valid prescription for the medication.

In court Friday, police prosecutor Andrea Fogarty asked Dowling to send McCarthy to a 28-day detox program, while his court-appointed attorney David Stuehr requested he be released on his own recognizance.

“He’s taking this very seriously and is very concerned about people on the road and that people in his care and custody were in danger,” Stuehr said. “He’s found that to be very troubling, so I think a no driving stipulation while he’s on release for personal recognizance would be appropriate.”

McCarthy remains held on $1,000 bail and is unable to drive until his next court appearance June 20.

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