School bus driver allegedly had a .26 blood alcohol level at time of crash in Tyngsborough

A school bus driver had a blood alcohol level of .26 when he crashed his vehicle, with four students aboard, into a minivan in Tyngsborough that was also transporting special needs students, authorities said today.

Erik Paulik (Tyngsborough Police)

At about 2:45 p.m. Monday, Tyngsborough police said, a small school bus rear-ended the minivan at the intersection of Middlesex Road at Westford Road. The minivan was pushed into the intersection and the rear window was broken, police said.

Police said that there were no injuries among the students or adult monitors on board the vehicles, police said.

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But a family member said that the driver of the minivan, a 27-year-old woman, had been pregnant and suffered a miscarriage as a result of the crash.

Many of the students attended the Lighthouse School in North Chelmsford, Scott Bartis, the principal, said.

The driver, Erik Paulik, 37, of Manchester, N.H., was arrested on charges of operating under the influence of intoxicating liquor, child endangerment while operating under the influence, and failure to slow when approaching an intersection.

The school relies on other school districts who use independent transportation vendors to transport students to and from Lighthouse from over 70 towns in Massachusetts and New Hampsire, Bartis said.

“At the present time, Lighthouse School has no information about the circumstances surrounding the accident,” the school said in a statement.

The drunken driving charge was filed after police discovered that Paulik allegedly had a blood alcohol of .26 percent, officials said.

Paulik pleaded not guilty to all charges at his arraignment in Lowell District Court today, according to Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr.’s office. Bail was set at $3,000 with the condition that Paulik not drive, refrain from consuming alcohol, submit to random screenings, and not contact witnesses, a Leone spokeswoman said.

Police said the bus, with Paulik behind the wheel, was tailgating the minivan before the crash.

The bus contained two monitors and four students; the minivan was transporting four students. Police said the vehicles were leaving a school in Chelmsford.

The bus is owned by a company in Manchester, N.H., but police have not released the name of the company.

The New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles reported that Paulik’s driving record does not include any previous incidents involving driving while under the influence.