A bus driver assigned to Somers Intermediate School was charged Wednesday with felony DWI for operating a school bus with children under 16 years old while under the influence.
New York State Police reported on December 9 troopers responded to the Somers School District bus garage to assist emergency medical service personnel on a report of an individual suffering a possible stroke. The district had been notified by a parent that a bus driver, William Mendez, 61, of Somers, was acting strange.
The district’s Director of Transportation immediately called Royal Coach Lines’ Somers Dispatch to have Mendez cease operations and drove to the location, where he was met by two Royal Coach employees. Mendez was relieved of his duties, and later transported to Northern Westchester Hospital for evaluation by the Somers Volunteer Fire Department Ambulance Corps.
State Police then began investigating the incident with the cooperation of the district. With assistance of the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office a search warrant was signed by the Town of Somers Court to obtain a biological sample from Mendez. Lab analysis was completed and revealed Mendez’s blood alcohol content was 0.22%.
Mendez was subsequently arrested Wednesday for Aggravated DWI Leandra’s Law, a class E felony. He was arraigned in Somers Court, and released on his own recognizance, to reappear in court January 6, 2020, at 5:30 p.m.
Somers Superintendent of Schools Dr. Raymond H. Blanch informed families of Somers students about the incident.
“I am so very sorry that our children and families in this community have been impacted by the unfathomable actions of one person,” Blanch stated. “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. We will follow the lead of the District Attorney’s Office in sharing information without compromising the ongoing investigation and its potential prosecution.”
“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,” he added. “We are committed to providing any and all resources to assist our school community in dealing with this incident and ensuring the safety and security of our students and staff.”