What to Know
- A Westchester County school bus driver has been charged with a felony for allegedly driving drunk while transporting students to school
- The school district was notified about his strange behavior by a parent; the initial emergency call to the bus garage was for a report of a stroke
- William Mendez allegedly had a blood alcohol content nearly three times the legal limit; he was arrested after State Police executed a search warrant
A 61-year-old school bus driver in Westchester County has been arrested for allegedly driving drunk -- with a blood alcohol content nearly three times the legal limit -- on the job, New York State Police say.
William Mendez was taken into custody Wednesday on a charge of aggravated DWI Leandra's Law, a felony crime even for first-time offenders. It was seven days prior that New York State Police responded to help out emergency crews responding to a report of a stroke at the Somers Central School District bus garage. It turns out a parent noticed Mendez was acting strangely and reported the behavior to the school district, officials said.
The school district called Royal Coach Lines, where Mendez has been employed as a bus driver. He was taken off the job, that taken to a hospital for evaluation. State Police launched an investigation and, with a search warrant from the Westchester County district attorney's office, were able to obtain a biological sample from Mendez. That sample revealed his blood alcohol content was 0.22 percent -- and he was arrested for allegedly driving a school bus with children under 16 aboard while under the influence.
In an email to Somers families about the bus driver's arrest, Somers Central School District Superintendent Dr. Raymond Blanch laid out the facts of the case and explained in detail how the district responded.
"I am so very sorry that our children and families in this community have been impacted by the unfathomable actions of one person," Blanch wrote." While it is impossible to prevent all criminal acts against our district, our administrative team and the district’s safety and security consultant, Altaris, have already initiated an internal investigation into the incident to verify compliance with safety regulations and to determine what opportunities exist for improvement to our procedures. It is always our goal to be transparent regarding incidents that impact our district."
He continued on a personal note, writing: " As Superintendent, and more importantly as a parent, I fully understand the emotional impact that this incident has had on our students, families and staff," and pledged whatever resources necessary to help the school community deal with the fallout.
Mendez, meanwhile, was released on his own recognizance after his arraignment, earlier this week. He's due back in court in a few weeks; attorney information for him wasn't immediately available. Royal Coach didn't immediately respond to a call for comment on the case.