School bus driver arrested following crash

LIHUE — Police arrested a 74-year-old Kapaa man for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant after he crashed a school bus into a boat Thursday morning.

Lawrence Koth was en route to Kapaa Middle School when citizens reported to police dispatch that the bus appeared to be swerving on the roadways, according to a county press release.

Officers located the bus at approximately 7:20 a.m. on Kamalu Road. After observing the vehicle weaving, they initiated a traffic stop on Olohena Road, near the Puuopae Road junction.

Koth was attempting to pull to the shoulder of the roadway when he sideswiped a parked boat and trailer. He failed an initial sobriety test while on scene and was subsequently arrested for OVUII (operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant), states the release.

“Police are currently awaiting test results but the incident does not appear to be alcohol related,” county spokeswoman Sarah Blane wrote in an email.

Koth was later released from police custody after posting bail. The incident remains under police investigation.

Koth and the four Kapaa Middle School students who were on board at the time of incident did not report any injuries. Police worked with Department of Education officials to notify the students’ parents and have them all safely transported to school.

“The first priority for DOE is the safety and well-being of our students coming to school, on our campus and returning home,” Bill Arakaki, complex area superintendent for Kauai, said. “The Department of Education requires that the driver be immediately and indefinitely removed from serving as a driver for DOE campuses. Reinstatement could be considered only after a comprehensive investigation of today’s incident, as well as employee background checks and screenings by both the contractor and the DOE.”

Koth was employed as a bus driver by Akita Enterprises Ltd. of Lihue. A representative of the company declined to comment and hung up the phone.

“We’d like to thank the citizens who immediately notified police when they recognized the bus weaving on the road,” said KPD Assistant Chief of the Patrol Services Bureau Ale Quibilan. “Their efforts may have prevented a much more serious incident from occurring.”

Koth had a 30-year career with Lockheed Martin in Palmdale, Calif., as previously reported by The Garden Island. After retiring, he moved to Kauai in 2002, where he has been involved with the Kauai Classic Car Club.

Koth did not return a request for comments by press time.


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