NBC 4 New York
A Nassau County judge has sentenced a school bus driver to a year in prison for driving drunk and crashing a mini-bus with five students on board into a Syosset home. Greg Cergol reports.
A Nassau County judge has sentenced a school bus driver to a year in prison for driving drunk and crashing a mini-bus with five students on board into a Syosset home.
Frederick Flowers, 66 of Massapequa Park, pleaded guilty to drunk driving and other charges earlier this year.
Dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit, Flowers said he was "beyond sorry" for the October 2012 crash.
None of the children on the bus, all under age 10, were injured. No one was inside the home when the bus slammed into the garage.
The students were headed home from St. Edward the Confessor school, just across the street from the crash scene.
Despite Flowers' apology, some thought he should have been ordered to serve more time behind bars.
"It's almost like a slap on the hand. I don't think it's enough," said Christina Percell, the owner of the home damaged in the crash.
Flowers was also sentenced to five years probation and had his driver's license revoked for 18 months.
"He has spent the last months since the incident asking, 'How are the children, how are the children?'" said Flowers' lawyer, Thomas Spreer. Spreer called his client a good man who loved kids and even sang songs to them as he drove to and from school.
Prior to the sentencing, prosecutor Katie Zizza read a letter from the mother of one of the children on the bus the day of the crash.
The unidentified mother called Flowers' actions "selfish and irresponsible," and added that for a time, her child had nightmares about the crash. She asked that in the future, all bus drivers be subjected to a Breathalyzer test before getting behind the wheel.
New York lawmakers will hold a hearing at SUNY Farmingdale Thursday on how to better protect children from drunk bus drivers.
Among the proposals under consideration: outfitting all school buses with ignition interlock systems, which block vehicles from being started if the driver's breath registers alcohol.