A Long Island bus driver was fired after she was caught drinking a White Claw seltzer while transporting children from school in Smithtown, New York.
Amal Hanna, 60, says she drank an alcoholic beverage unwittingly because she grabbed it from her fridge thinking it was a regular seltzer that her roommate had left there.
“I have been crying and crying, I don’t even have any more tears. It was just a mistake, it was a mistake,” she told News12 of the Oct. 4 incident in a story that was published on Friday.
Hanna, who is undergoing chemotherapy, told the outlet that due to her cancer treatment, she had difficulty tasting that the drink was alcoholic.
After someone spotted the White Claw in Hanna’s cup holder as she transported kids, the school district immediately pulled her from her route. No one was injured in the incident.
“For people like me that don’t drink, how are they going to know this is alcohol?” said Hanna, who added that she had no clue that White Claw drinks contain alcohol, according to News12.
Hanna said she now fears losing her home without the job that she’s had for the past 15 years.
Smithtown School District Superintendent Mark Secaur released a statement to families following the incident, News12 reports.
He said the district had “received a report of a bus driver drinking an alcoholic beverage while on the route to bring students home from High School West. It was confirmed that an alcoholic beverage was on board, and the driver was promptly taken from the bus, and a different driver completed the route.”
Hanna has received an outpouring of support, including a GoFundMe fundraiser that a local parent set up for her that has already amassed $24,000 as of Thursday.
“The children on her bus said she is [the] kindest woman who was like a grandma to them,” the page’s organizer wrote on GoFundMe. “She is undergoing chemotherapy and made an honest mistake that cost her her job. My children were on the bus that day. They knew the circumstances had to be a mistake.”
News12 interviewed several parents from Smithtown High School West who praised Hanna’s demeanor with their children.
“She was so sweet and kind to them, I can’t imagine she would ever do anything to harm them,” one parent told the outlet.
The company that Hanna worked for, WE Transport, released a statement about the incident, News12 reported. “This alleged conduct is completely unacceptable, and the driver has been immediately removed from service.”
WE Transport did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment.
Though Suffolk County police told News12 that Hanna won’t face charges over the mishap, Secaur said she is indefinitely banned from transporting any Smithtown students.