A Florida man landed behind bars after driving dozens of middle school students home Wednesday, while under the influence of alcohol.
After being booked into the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility shortly before 5 p.m. Wednesday, tests would reveal that Mark Michael McNeil, 60, had a blood alcohol content level of .32 and .31, respectively. That’s four times the legal limit in the state of Florida.
According to investigators, the Ormond Beach resident arrived to work for his afternoon shift, a co-worker with direct contact with him could smell alcohol and reported it to supervisors. Keeping his usual routine, McNeil would attempt to pick up his school bus.
However, he boarded the wrong bus, that was not assigned to him and proceeded to his usual pick-up location at Buddy Taylor Middle School to pick up students on his afternoon route.
The 60-year-old driver picked up approximately 40 children from the middle school and begin to drop them off at their bus stops. After attempts by school transportation to contact McNeil by radio were ignored he used the radio to notify the District he was having a medical emergency.
Deputies say that McNeil’s supervisor found him on his route near the intersection of Karas Trail and Karat Path. McNeil exited the bus and fell to the ground complaining he couldn’t breathe. Flagler County Fire Rescue responded and transported him to AdventHealth.
The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) was then notified and deputies responded to AdventHealth.
Deputies arrived at AdventHealth-Palm Coast and McNeil attempted to run. Deputies apprehended him on hospital property just moments later. Deputies could smell alcohol coming from McNeil and he was showing signs of intoxication while resisting arrest.
“This drunk thought it was okay to endanger 40 children and other drivers by driving a loaded school bus significantly impaired,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “Thankfully, no one was hurt as a result of his actions. I commend the employee who reported him to school officials. Anyone whose careless actions endangers lives of children and other drivers deserves to be locked up, which he was.”
McNeil was arrested for Driving Under the Influence with Passengers Under 18, Resisting Officer without Violence, and at least one charge of Child Neglect.
Further charges are pending the completion of the investigation and identification of approximately the 40 students aboard the bus, according to deputies.
McNeil could face 39 additional counts of child neglect, deputies say.
Just three days earlier, the Florida Highway Patrol cited McNeil for Failure to Obey a Stop Sign when he was involved in a school bus crash while driving the same afternoon bus route.