DUI suspect drives onto Durango middle school campus; no one is harmed

DURANGO, Colo. - A suspected drunken driver was arrested after driving onto a Durango middle school campus on Tuesday.

Sophia Casuse, 42, of Durango, was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and driving on a revoked license, said Durango Police spokesman Lt. Ray Shupe.

At about 12:20 p.m., the woman drove a black Volvo sedan onto a bike path and sidewalk on the Miller Middle School campus toward a basketball court where eight children were playing, according to police and a school district spokeswoman.

But police and school officials contradicted an initial account by a school instructional aide, John Wade, who told the Durango Herald he had pushed several children out of the path of the oncoming car, saving them from possible injury.

Julie Popp, spokeswoman for Durango School District 9-R, said written statements by on-duty teacher Dean Garland and eight students "directly conflict with Mr. Wade's telling of the story."

"The car was at a crawl. There was no way that it was going at any faster than 5 mph," Popp said, citing the district's investigation and witness accounts. "No children were directly in harm's way. No children were pushed out of the way. The nearest child was perhaps 15 to 30 feet away from the vehicle."

Garland approached the vehicle and found the driver was "completely incoherent," Popp said. "It seems that she was completely unaware that she was evening driving the vehicle." The teacher coaxed the woman to stop the car and hand over the keys, Popp said.

The driver "tried to stumble away from the scene and fell into a ditch," Popp said.

Shupe said two school resource officer happened to be no campus and came to detain Casuse.

The woman, who is 28 weeks pregnant, smelled of alcohol and was "swaying back and forth," Shupe said. "She admitted she'd been drinking."

Casuse was checked out at Mercy Regional Medical Center and then taken to La Plata County Jail, police said.

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