A bus driver was arrested recently after reportedly driving drunk with a busload of student-athletes from Snowflake.

Just after 4 p.m. on Oct. 1, a Snowflake Unified School District bus with 23 students, two coaches and driver Ernest Ralph Feight, 55, of Snowflake, arrived at the Circle K in Star Valley.

Feight reportedly stole an alcoholic beverage from the store and then drank it in the parking lot, according to information from the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Feight then boarded the bus and reportedly drove away erratically, traveling to the parking lot of a grocery store in Payson.

A DPS sergeant located the school bus in the parking lot and contacted Feight.

Feight allegedly displayed signs and symptoms of impairment. After a subsequent DUI investigation, Feight was arrested on charges of shoplifting, seven counts of aggravated DUI, seven counts of child neglect and 18 counts of endangerment.

Feight works for First Student, a company that supplies bus drivers under contract.

Snowflake-Taylor Unified School District Superintendent Hollis Merrell had no comment.

“At First Student, there is nothing more important than the safety of the students we transport. We understand and share in the concern this incident has caused,” said Jen Biddinger, First Student communications manager. “Behavior such as this is unacceptable and at odds with what we stand for as a company. We have initiated the termination process. We have been working with the authorities to support their investigation. Given this is an active investigation, we are unable to comment further.”

A quick search of the Arizona Supreme Court website showed no other arrests for Feight.

Contact the editor at abechman@payson.com

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