Parents usually consider schools safe environments for their children although rare incidents happen from time to time and school officials are not always capable of preventing those situations. From fights between students to arguments with teachers, there are different types of incidents and in most of the cases they are solved within the schools.
But a recent situation left many parents terrified after it was discovered that a bus driver was operating a school bus full of students while intoxicated, an incident that, understandably, bothers every single parent. Fortunately, everything ended up well and no one was hurt.
According to WFTV, the incident happened earlier this month in Florida and the school bus driver, later identified as the 60-year-old Mark McNeill, was arrested and faces several charges. Reportedly, the driver had four times the legal limit of blood alcohol content in his system when he was arrested by the local authorities.
Deputies were dispatched at the scene after one of McNeill’s colleagues informed their supervisors that ‘they could smell alcohol’ once they got in direct contact with McNeill after arriving to work for their afternoon shift. As per McNeill’s usual routine, shortly after arrival he headed to take a school bus for that day. But he drove off with a bus that was not assigned to him that day.
According to the afternoon schedule, McNeill drove to the local middle school, picked up 40 students and started dropping them off at their stops like any other day. While he was doing his job, the dispatchers tried to reach him over the radio numerous times, but for some reason he was ignoring their attempts.
After finishing the route, McNeill finally used the radio but only to notify the dispatchers and the school district officials he was having a medical emergency. After allegedly coming out of the vehicle and complaining he couldn’t breathe, McNeill was taken to a nearby hospital. Since the responding deputies were with him for all the time in hospital, he realized something was not ok and he tried to flee the scene, but the deputies arrested him.
McNeill was examined and tested twice. The results showed that he had a blood alcohol content level of .32 and .31, respectively, which is four times the legal limit in the state of Florida, the local sheriff office said in a Facebook statement.
“This drunk thought it was okay to endanger 40 children and other drivers by driving a loaded school bus significantly impaired,” Sheriff R. Staly said. “Thankfully, no one was hurt as a result of his actions. I commend the employee who reported him to school officials. Anyone whose careless actions endangers lives of children and other drivers deserves to be locked up, which he was.”
Once McNeill was released from hospital, he was jailed and now he faces multiple charges including driving under the influence with passengers under the age of 18, resisting an officer without violence, and child neglect, CNN reported. McNeill was held in jail and released on a bond.
Once the deputies confirmed the incident, the school district placed McNeill on administrative leave and an investigation into the incident is ongoing. McNeill has been a school district employee since April 2017, and while there have been some minor incidents in the past, “nothing of this magnitude” has occurred, the school district’s spokesperson said.