PORTAGE, Ind. (STMW) — Police say a northwest Indiana school bus driver was drunk Thursday when she drove 44 elementary children on a field trip, the Post-Tribune is reporting.

Kolleen M. Lampa, 44, of Portage, is facing felony charges of drunken driving while operating a vehicle with children in it and neglect of a dependent, Portage police Sgt. Keith Hughes said. She is also facing lesser charges related to drunken driving.

The incident unfolded Thursday when police were called to the Portage Township School transportation building at 3286 Airport Rd. at 11:14 a.m. Transportation Director David Harman told police he believed Lampa, who was seated in his office, had been driving her bus while intoxicated.

Police said Lampa had a verbal disturbance with another bus driver when she arrived at the high school with the children at 9:18 a.m. Police said Lampa appeared upset over a parking issue and the other driver became concerned she was intoxicated due to a strong odor of alcohol on Lampa’s breath.

The other driver described Lampa’s behavior as erratic, stating, “She kinda had a meltdown.”

After the confrontation, Lampa attempted to re-board the bus, but the other driver stopped her from doing so and contacted Harman.

Harman also smelled the alcohol odor on Lampa’s breath, but she told him she hadn’t consumed alcohol. She later said she drank a glass of wine with dinner.

Harman said he followed school district policy and took Lampa to the St. Mary’s Occupational Health test site at 3170 Willowcreek Road for chemical tests for intoxication. She provided two samples — the first one at 10:30 a.m. showed a blood alcohol level of 0.139 percent. The second sample at 10:54 a.m. was 0.129 percent.

Lampa was taken to the Portage Police Department where she had trouble with field sobriety tests. A blood alcohol test taken by police at 12:09 p.m. showed her level at .09 percent. She was arrested at that time and taken to the Porter County Jail.

Lampa bonded out of jail Thursday, Hughes said. Two fifth-grade teachers on the bus told police neither was close enough to Lampa to detect alcohol on her breath.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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