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Former Bedford school bus driver charged with DUI, child endangerment enters pleas

BEDFORD — A former Bedford County Public Schools bus driver accused of driving under the influence in the course of her duties is not admitting guilt in two charges against her but maintains facts in the case are sufficient for a conviction.

Kimberly Leigh Ricketts, 53, of Forest, entered “facts sufficient” pleas Friday in Bedford County Circuit Court to one count of DUI, first offense, a misdemeanor, and one count of child endangerment, a felony.

A concerned mother contacted the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office on Oct. 7, telling them her child’s bus driver was “acting suspicious during the morning elementary school route,” according to a news release from the sheriff’s office following the incident.

Those complaints led to an investigation by law enforcement, school officials and the Department of Social Services, resulting in her arrest, the release said.

Ricketts had been employed with Bedford County Public Schools since 2006, according to a school spokesperson, but didn’t drive a school bus after the Oct. 7 incident and no longer is employed there.

Stacey Stickney, deputy commonwealth’s attorney, said Ricketts drove routes for three schools in Forest and used a personal vehicle while driving her shift the morning of the offenses. Ricketts picked up an elementary-age boy in her own vehicle and attempted to pick up a group of other children at a stop but they declined to get in the vehicle, Stickney said.

The boy realized something was wrong as Ricketts tried to push buttons as she would on the bus, and the boy asked to be left off, Stickney said. Ricketts returned to a school, got on the school bus and finished the routes that day, the prosecutor said.

Ricketts started drinking alcohol the night before, woke up at 3 a.m. and resumed drinking until two hours later and began her shift at 6 a.m., according to Stickney. Concerned parents reached out to the division’s transportation office about her suspicious behavior that day and she was told to go to Bedford Memorial Hospital for a blood alcohol test, Stickney said.

The blood alcohol level was .10, over the legal limit of .08, Stickney said.

Aaron Pike, Ricketts’ attorney, said Ricketts has no previous incidents in her 15-year tenure with the school system as a driver and currently wears an ankle monitor. At the request of the attorneys, adjudication in the case is continued to Oct. 14 in Bedford Circuit Court.

Ricketts remains released on bond awaiting the October hearing and waived a pre-sentence report.

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