A school bus driver for Flagler County Schools located north of Daytona Beach, Florida was released on a $500 bond after being arrested for driving with a blood-alcohol level four times above the legal limit.
The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday arrested Mark M. McNeil, 60, and charged him with driving under the influence with passengers under the age of 18, resisting arrest and child neglect.
The Sheriff’s office added it is recommending to the state attorney’s office that 14 additional felony counts of child neglect be added. The investigation is ongoing, and 11 other families of students could make a similar request.
Flagler County Schools spokesman Jason Wheeler said an internal investigation is also underway, and the district will not comment until that is completed.
But according to an arrest report, McNeil was observed by a school district transportation employee Wednesday afternoon at about 2 p.m. local time as appearing drunk before starting his route to pick up students at Buddy Taylor Middle School. McNeil apparently then drove away. There were 40 students on board.
The office staff member reported their suspicion to Keyondra Gilmore, the district’s safety and training supervisor, who later told deputies she then immediately notified Director of Transportation Dontarrious Rowls. Gilmore said she began calling McNeil over the radio and informed him to pull over to a safe location so that he could be relieved of duty and so McNeil could be taken to be drug screened.
Gilmore added that McNeil refused to comply. She also told deputies that McNeil’s bus, No. 22045, was then “spotted” but he still refused to pull over and stop. Gilmore then stopped behind bus McNeil in a district vehicle, at which time McNeil stopped the bus.
The report goes on to state that McNeil then fell to the ground as he exited the bus and complained that he could not breathe, and his legs hurt. Paramedics responded to the scene and transported McNeil to a local hospital.
Upon arriving at the hospital, the report states that McNeil “jumped out of Rescue 92’s unit and began running across the hospital grounds.” A deputy who was dispatched to the hospital caught McNeil and smelled a strong odor of alcohol as McNeil spoke and exhaled as well as slurred words.
When asked if he had been drinking, McNeil responded with a verbal “no.” The deputy said McNeil was also “very argumentative and would not follow simple instructions.” McNeil’s eyes were also observed to be “blood shot and glassy looking.”
McNeil refused to take a field sobriety test, at which point he was placed in handcuffs and was arrested for DUI. McNeil was “passively resistant to any and all lawful commands” and led to a patrol car, where the deputy said he became verbally and physically resistant.
Upon arrival at the Flagler County Inmate Facility, the report states that McNeil submitted to a breath sample, the first registering a BAC level of .32 and a second 20 minutes later of .31. The legal limit in Florida is .08.
No students were injured during the incident, but the family of a female student passenger requested the child neglect charges be applied. The ongoing criminal investigation seeks to identify the other 39 students on the bus to determine if additional charges will be filed.
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