The owner of a coach bus company whose employee was arrested after police discovered he was driving a party bus full of drunk teenagers, beer and liquor says it's the teenagers who should be taking responsibility for their own intoxication and for the damage they left behind.
State police busted the party bus at a Sunrise Highway rest area in Southampton on Monday night, and found 42 teens ages 16 and 17 in "various stages of intoxication," and more than 100 cans of beer and several gallons of opened and empty whiskey and rum bottles.
The bus driver, 26-year-old Luis A. Guevara-Henriquz of Hempstead, was arrested on child endangerment charges.
The driver's employer, Matthew Delaney of Coachman Luxury Transport, says Guevara-Henriquz never knew the alcohol was on the bus.
"I feel he followed what our protocol is. As soon as you hear or see something, pull the vehicle over. And that's what he did," said Delaney.
A Franklin Square girl who was on the trashed party bus and asked not to be identified insisted the bus company knew about the liquor.
Delaney says the teens damaged the bus at his expense.
"Every time I walk on the bus, I'm shocked at what was done," he said. "I have never been told that these kids are going to be held responsible for the damage they created, and not one kid was ticketed."
The teenagers, who were headed to Montauk from Garden City, were turned over to relatives.
Delaney is now supporting legislation that would make it mandatory for all coach buses carrying underage passengers to have a legal chaperone.
"The drivers are being held accountable -- to stop that, we need to have somebody on the bus to protect the driver," he said.
State Sen. Jeffrey Klein, who's sponsoring the bill, said: "When it's not mandatory, it's difficult to get a business to do it. Now we're making it mandatory and it's a positive step in the right direction."
The proposed bill would also require an alert system which would let a driver know if a window or door is opened in the back of their coach bus.
The Long Island Limousine Association says while Coachman is not a member of its organization, industry standards call for companies to sign contracts with parents in situations where teens are being transported, and the fine print always bans alcohol for underage riders. It is typically the driver's responsibility to enforce the rules.
Guevara-Henriquz is set to appear in court. Delaney says he's keeping him as a driver and insists he did nothing wrong.