The parents of Bozeman middle school students must have been horrified to find out their kids were touring Yellowstone Park in buses driven by allegedly intoxicated drivers. That it happened was appalling. But the potential was there for so much worse.
In the end, however, the Bozeman school superintendent and the bus line owner dealt with the situation in a calm and forthright manner, and may even find something positive in the incident.
Last week, 98 Sacajawea Middle School students boarded two buses and headed for Yellowstone on a two-day visit. The students spent the night in Gardiner, where the two bus drivers apparently decided to stay up later do some drinking.
Sheriff's deputies reported seeing them leave a bar at 1 a.m. One of the men was unable to remember how to get back to the motel and was escorted there by the deputies. A few hours later the motel clerk alerted authorities the men were going to be driving buses into the park. Park rangers tailed the buses and confronted the drivers at a stop where the drivers admitted to consuming alcohol but a few hours before.
Bozeman School Superintendent Kirk Miller said the schools had worked with the bus company for 30 years and that the DUI incident was the first of its kind.
But more importantly, he added that the incident will prompt meetings with all of the contractors who provide services to the schools to review all safety standards.
We all assume school officials will ensure the safety of our children in all school related events. The assumption is so second-nature that sometimes important safety issues can be forgotten or ignored.
The bus drivers in question have not been tried. But it's clear that a serious tragedy may have been averted.
And if the incident prompts a review of minimum safety standards for all school-related activities, perhaps the end result may even be viewed as something positive.