911 caller recounts wild ride on board bus with suspected DUI driver at the wheel: ‘Something’s not right’

A recently released 911 call reveals harrowing moments on board a bus bound for a Florida graduation celebration with an accused drunk driver at the wheel who allegedly plowed through three red lights before a parent in another vehicle forced the bus to stop.

Approximately 30 graduating seniors from Sebring High School and four chaperones, were headed to Daytona Lagoon as part of Project Graduation when they noticed the Holiday Coach Lines driver, 55-year-old Keith Shifflett, was driving erratically. 

A woman on board the bus called 911 and told the operator that Shifflett had run three red lights and wouldn’t stop the bus. 

"He won’t stop," the caller said. "He won’t stop driving."

Parents following behind the bus walk up to the vehicle after it stopped. Courtesy Gisele Diaz.

Parents following behind the bus walk up to the vehicle after it stopped. Courtesy Gissele Diaz. 

The caller goes on to say that the passengers keep asking the driver to pull over, but he won’t stop the bus. 

"He sounds like he’s under the influence," the caller tells the operator. "There needs to be a sobriety…Something’s not right." 

After the caller makes a statement about the driver’s sobriety, the passengers can be heard screaming in the background. 

READ: Florida men accused of stealing 150 gallons of used cooking oil from restaurants

"I’m shaking," the caller states before she can be heard in the background reassuring the passengers that the police are on their way. 

She then reiterates that the driver needs to have a sobriety test before telling the operator that he stopped the bus. 

"He just stopped in the middle of the road," the caller said. "He doesn’t even have flashers on."

Parent Gissele Diaz was following a few cars behind the bus when her daughter called and told her what was going on.

Law enforcement officers gave Keith Shifflett a field sobriety test at the scene. Image is courtesy of Gisele Diaz.

Law enforcement officers gave Keith Shifflett a field sobriety test at the scene. Image is courtesy of Gissele Diaz. 

"She was like this guy is running lights, he's cutting off people. We can hear people in the background screaming. And then I had another of the moms that was on the bus chaperoning as well, and she called me. She's like, this guy is driving crazy, how do we stop him," Diaz said.

That's when Diaz got her car in front of the bus and slowed down until it stopped.

READ: St. Pete man accused of sexually assaulting woman at gunpoint after meeting her online: Police

According to the sheriff's office, investigators have video evidence showing Shifflett buying alcohol at a gas station before picking up the students. The sheriff says Shifflett failed all 4 field sobriety tests.

"To jeopardize these kids who are entering their brand new chapter of their lives and potentially could have taken that from them is a lot," said parent Maggie Hucke, who was a few seats behind Shifflett and called 911.

The students were eventually able to make it to Daytona Lagoon on another bus. Hucke said she's just thankful no one was injured.

Courtesy: Highlands County Sheriff's Office

Keith Shifflett mugshot. Courtesy: Highlands County Sheriff's Office

"We were all just trembling. We were speechless. It was an absolute miracle nobody got hurt. We were just a little freaked out for sure," Hucke said.

Shifflett has since been fired from his employer, Holiday Coach Lines, which chartered the bus. Shifflett is being charged with DUI along with 30 counts of culpable negligence and four counts of child abuse without great bodily harm due to the minors who were on the bus.

"Keith was immediately terminated when arrested. He has been with us around eight years without any complaints or concerns. We have random drug screenings and have never had any positive results. We’re a small company and in 32 years have never had something like this happen," the company president, Michael Kanago, said in a statement emailed to FOX 13.

SIGN UP: Click here to sign up for the FOX 13 daily newsletter