Chinese police say parents unfazed after driver of overloaded ‘school bus’ detained

Man was driving 20 pupils to school in a seven-seater van without a licence when he failed a breath test

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 January, 2018, 3:14pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 January, 2018, 3:14pm

Police in a town in southwest China say some parents are not cooperating with an investigation into a man detained for illegally driving their children to and from school in an overloaded van because they want him to resume the service, a local newspaper reports.

The 36-year-old driver, surnamed Zhao, was arrested on December 7 in the town of Fuhong in Chengdu, Sichuan province, a week after he was found to be driving 20 pupils to school in a seven-seater van, Chengdu Commercial Daily reported on Tuesday.

Police told the newspaper Zhao was driving without a licence and had failed a breath test. He has been in detention since December but has not been charged.

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Officers stopped the vehicle after noticing it was being driven erratically and the back of the van appeared to be weighed down, the report said.

According to police, 20 young children were found in the van. Zhao told officers he had been hired by their parents to take them to and from a local primary school every day for 140 yuan (US$21) a month per child.

Zhao said he had been running the “school bus” service for nearly two years, but his licence was revoked a year ago for drink-driving.

“The road condition is good and I knew what I was doing, so I just took the risk for money,” Zhao was quoted as saying. “[I thought] as long as I get the children to and from school safely, it would all be fine. The parents knew about the overloading, but they trusted me.”

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A police officer surnamed Bao told the newspaper that some of the parents appeared unconcerned and had refused to cooperate with their inquiries.

“[All the parents] care about is when Zhao will be released so that he can go back to picking up their children. They do not understand the seriousness of this situation at all,” Bao said.