A mini school bus driver who authorities said passed out behind the wheel and crashed into a house on Long Island while children were aboard has been arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated, police said.
Frederick Flowers, 66, was leaving a Catholic elementary school Wednesday afternoon when he had what fire officials initially referred to as a "medical emergency of some kind" and veered into the house on Teibrook Avenue at about 3:15 p.m., authorities said.
The five children on the bus ranged in age from 5 to 8, but none was injured, police said. They attend school at St. Edward the Confessor School.
Parents were still reeling from the incident Thursday, angry and shaken after seeing the crash across the street from the school.
"You're taking precious cargo with you," said Joe Mekalainas, a parent. "You should have a little more responsibility."
Flowers remains hospitalized in serious but stable condition at Nassau University Medical Center, according to a hospital spokesperson.
The Massapequa Park man was charged with five counts each of aggravated driving while intoxicated under Leandra's Law, endangering the welfare of a child, reckless endangerment and two counts of driving while intoxicated. He was arraigned in his hospital bed Thursday afternoon and pleaded guilty.
Flowers worked for the First Student bus company of Freeport. The company said he began working there March 2009 and had a clean driving record.
"The driver passed all pre-employment screenings," including drug and alcohol screenings and DMV checks, the company said in a statement. First Student is conducting a full internal investigation and assisting authorities with theirs.
The school where he drove to pick up kids also said there had been no previous issues with the driver.
"There were no indications of any problems with this driver," said a spokesman for St. Edward the Confessor. "There were no problems before the crash."
Flowers has been suspended from First Student Bus Company pending the outcome of the investigation.
Homeowner Dan Percell, whose house Flowers crashed into, called the situation "disgusting."
"His job was to make sure the kids got home safetly," Percell said.
Only two dogs were in the home at the time of the crash. They were not hurt.
Percell's wife Christina had been at the bank with her daughter when the incident happened. She returned to find her house of 15 years destroyed.
"We got out of the car, and we see that there's a school bus in the garage," she told NBC 4 New York. "Totally, totally shocked."
Bail was set for Flowers in the amount of $50,000 cash or bond. He's due back in court Oct. 10.