A Long Island man is accused of endangering the welfare of a child after officers found 42 drunk teens, beer and booze on the bus he was driving Monday night, police said.
State police received a 911 call at 9:30 p.m. Monday reporting screaming at the Sunrise Highway rest area in Southampton. Police arrived to find 42 teens, ages 16 and 17, in "various stages of intoxication," and more than 100 cans of beer and "several gallons of various opened and empty whiskey and rum bottles" on the bus, state police said.
The bus driver, Luis A. Guevara-Henriquz, 26, of Hempstead, was arrested. The teens, all students from the Sewanhaka Central High School District in western Nassau County, were turned over to relatives.
The bus, a Coachman limousine from Farmingdale, left Garden City earlier that evening and was bound for Montauk, police said.
The teens were on the bus that night because a parent of one of the students had rented it for the junior prom in March but the bus had a mechanical issue at the time, said Trooper Frank Bandiero, a spokesman for the state police. The bus company offered the students this trip to make good on that junior prom booking, Bandiero said.
Guevara-Henriquz was given a desk appearance ticket and is due in Southampton Town Court at a later date. The Suffolk County District Attorney's office did not have information on the suspect's lawyer. No one answered the door at Guevara-Henriquz's home, and the bus company had no comment.
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 were 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.
Marge Lee, whose son died in a drunk driving accident years ago and now teaches teens about the consequences of underage drinking through an organization called Dedicatedd, says the driver should have stepped up.
"If he knew these kids were drinking, then he should be responsible," she said. "He's culpable. He's the adult on the bus."
But West Hempstead resident Cathy Farrell said the parents should be held responsible.
Investigators are looking into who bought the alcohol and whether anyone else can be charged, police said. More charges are pending in the ongoing investigation.
"I feel anger, disappointment, fear for the children's safety," said Lee. "These kids get off that party buss and they're drunk out of their minds -- what's to stop them from stepping in the street and being killed?"
-- Greg Cergol and Brynn Gingras contributed to this report.