Lehigh Valley

Bus driver who left kids at gas station taken into custody

Accused of driving under the influence.

BATH, Pa. - A school bus driver has been charged with 26 counts of endangering the welfare of children and one count of DUI after police say she left kids stranded at a gas station Friday afternoon.

Lori Ann Mankos, 44, of Walnutport, was found at her residence and taken into custody.

State police said Mankos had been driving the bus erratically while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.

Northampton Area School District middle school and high school students got on the bus around 2:50 p.m.

The bus driver was going along the bus route, then pulled into a Sunoco gas station in Bath after some kind of disturbance on the bus, Northampton Area School District Superintendent Joseph S. Kovalchik said.

The driver then parked the bus, got out and walked away around 3 p.m. Mankos had handed the bus's keys to a Sunoco employee before leaving, state police said.

Many parents picked up their kids at the Sunoco.

The rest of the kids were taken home by another bus driver who was brought in by First Student, the company which handles transportation for the school district.

None of the kids were harmed.

Mankos faces one count of endangering the welfare of children for each child left at the station. Mankos also faces one count each of careless driving and reckless driving.

Mason Persiani, one of the students on the bus, said the driver was acting strangely.

"When there was a turn, a right-hand turn and when she took it she was going far too fast," Persiani said. "She ended up being halfway into the opposing lane of traffic."

Persiani said the students had tried asking the driver to pull over.

One of the students pulled the emergency handle on the back of the bus once it pulled over. The students then got out and stood in the parking lot, trying to figure out how to get home.

Persiani then called his father, Anthony, who immediately came to pick him and his 13-year-old brother up.

"I would certainly like an explanation," Anthony said. "It was a scary situation."

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