Kids Call 911 on Drunk Driving School Instructor: Police - NBC New York

Kids Call 911 on Drunk Driving School Instructor: Police

Russell Cohen, 58, was instructing four students from Suffolk Auto Driving School on Saturday when they grew suspicious that he was intoxicated, police said

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    Kids Call 911 on Drunk Driving Instructor

    A driving instructor on Long Island was arrested for driving drunk after the frightened teen students in his car were able to escape at a McDonald's. Greg Cergol reports. (Published Monday, Oct. 8, 2018)

    What to Know

    • A group of kids convinced their driving school instructor to drop them off at McDonald’s after they realized he might be drunk, police said

    • The kids then called 911 on the instructor, according to police

    • The instructor drove off and ended up rear-ending another car. He was arrested and faces charges including aggravated DWI

    A group of kids convinced their driving school instructor to drop them off at McDonald’s — and then called the police on him — after they realized he was drunk, police said.

    Russell Cohen, 58, was instructing four students from Suffolk Auto Driving School on Saturday, acting as a substitute for the group's regular teacher, Suffolk County police said. One of the teens in the car, Lila Mabanta, said she immediately knew something wasn't right.

    "He was saying he loved women, and called Sarah and I beautiful," she told News 4 New York on Monday. "So he was really unprofessional and inappropriate the whole time." 

    But the real concern kicked in once Cohen took the wheel himself, she said. He was going fast, and at one point drove the car into the curb. 

    Getty Images for New York Comic

    "He kept telling us, 'Don't worry, I'm not going to hurt you. Don't feel scared or uncomfortable,'" said Mabanta. 

    The students told Cohen they were hungry and asked him to stop at a McDonald's at about 11 a.m. That's when they got out and had someone inside call 911. 

    Police say Cohen drove away without the students and rear-ended another car on Route 25 in Ridge.

    The driver of the car Cohen hit was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

    When Suffolk police caught up with Cohen, they found his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit, they said. Police commended the teens for finding a creative away to get out of the dangerous situation. 

    "My whole family is distraught over what could have happened," said Carla Mabanta, whose daughter Lila was in the car. "He might have thought it was fun and games, but not us." 

    Cohen was arrested on charges of aggravated driving while intoxicated and endangering the welfare of a child.

    It's not clear if he has an attorney who can speak for him. Cohen worked for the Suffolk Auto Driving School, a company hired by Suffolk Community College to oversee its driver's education program. The school left a recorded message with parents, saying in part, "Our apologies, and we're glad everyone returned safely. 

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