HAVERHILL — A 48-year-old man is charged with driving under the influence of drugs after the school van he was driving crashed while transporting a teenage student, police said.

Shawn McCarthy of Exeter, New Hampshire is charged with driving under the influence of drugs, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, possession of a class E substance and reckless endangerment of a child, police said.

McCarthy was arrested just before 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the area of Westgate Plaza, police said. He was arraigned Friday in Haverhill District Court, where he posted $1,000 bail and was released.

McCarthy's court-appointed lawyer, David Stuehr, said McCarthy takes prescribed medications for medical conditions including diabetes, and recently had the dosage of the diabetes medication increased, which caused him to wake up later than usual Friday.

McCarthy also regularly uses a sleeping pill at night, the lawyer said. McCarthy will check with his doctor about whether the medications are causing problems with him, the lawyer said.

According to a police report on file at the court, a 13-year-old girl told investigators that McCarthy picked her up at Bartlett Middle School in Lowell about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, as he does every afternoon, to transport her to her mother's home on Primrose Street in Haverhill.

According to the report, the girl told police that during the trip from Lowell to Haverhill McCarthy was speeding on Interstate 495 and drifting between lanes, so she asked him to slow down.

The girl became so frightened that she asked him to pull over and he got off the highway at Exit 49, River Street in Haverhill, where the van hit a sign and sideswiped a guardrail, she told police, according to the report.

McCarthy eventually pulled into the Walgreens store parking lot on River Street, where the girl took his cell phone and called her parents, the report said.

Police were called to the scene, where the mother had arrived and placed her daughter in a car, according to the report. The mother told police that McCarthy was unable to form complete sentences, the report said. An officer on the scene said McCarthy's speech was slurred, according to the report.

McCarthy was arrested and the girl was taken to Holy Family Hospital in Haverhill for treatment of pain to her right shoulder and right knee, the police report said.

The van had extensive damage to the right front passenger side of the vehicle and the front right tire was falling off its rim, according to the police report. The van is registered to a Methuen company and has nothing to do with Haverhill schools, officials of the School Department said.

According to the police report, McCarthy didn't appear to know the van had been in a crash when the officer arrived. McCarthy simply said the van had a flat tire, the officer said.

McCarthy had a small cut on his head but told the officer he was not injured, according to the report. He appeared to be lethargic, the report said.

A complete report will appear in Saturday's print edition of The Eagle-Tribune and online at eagletribune.com.

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