Amal Hanna, 60, won’t face charges for drinking while driving students, authorities said.
A New York bus driver who was fired after she was caught driving students home while drinking an alcoholic seltzer – to her alleged surprise – will not face charges, police said.
An emotional Amal Hanna, 60, told Long Island’s News 12 that the Oct. 4 “mistake” happened after she accidentally grabbed a White Claw instead of a regular fruit-flavored seltzer from the refrigerator she shares with her roommate before she headed to work.
Hanna, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments, told the outlet that she has difficulty tasting and was not able to detect any alcohol in the beverage. When the White Claw was observed in her cup holder as she transported kids from Smithtown High School West, she was immediately removed from her route.
“For people like me that don’t drink, how are they going to know this is alcohol?” Hanna, who had been a bus driver for 15 years, asked. She also worried about becoming homeless.
In a statement to families following the incident, per the station, Smithtown School District Superintendent Mark Secaur said they had “received a report of a bus driver drinking an alcoholic beverage while on the route to bring students home from High School West. It was confirmed that an alcoholic beverage was on board, and the driver was promptly taken from the bus, and a different driver completed the route.”
“This alleged conduct is completely unacceptable, and the driver has been immediately removed from service,” WE Transport Inc., the bus company that employed her, told News 12 and The New York Post. No children were injured in the incident.
WE Transport Inc. did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment.
When reached for comment by PEOPLE, Hanna said she is “suffering” due to the situation.
The Suffolk County Police Department told PEOPLE that Hanna will not face any charges following the mix-up, while Secaur told PEOPLE he had “no additional comment.”
A GoFundMe campaign launched by a parent said Hanna needs to be supported “emotionally and financially.”
“The children on her bus said she is [the] kindest woman who was like a grandma to them,” the organizer added. “She is undergoing chemotherapy and made an honest mistake that cost her her job. My children were on the bus that day. They knew the circumstances had to be a mistake.”
As of Thursday morning, the fundraiser had raised over $22,000 in support of Hanna.