Troopers: Driver Was Drunk When Bus Carrying Hilliard Students Crashed


The driver of a charter bus carrying 12 Hilliard middle school students was charged with drunken driving after it crashed and rolled over on Friday morning.

The Heritage Middle School students were traveling to Cedar Point when the crash occurred at about 8:35 a.m. near the Huron-Seneca county line, 10TV's Andy Hirsch reported.

The driver, Ronald L. Williams, of Columbus, was arrested and charged with child endangering, failure to control, drunken driving and operating a commercial vehicle without a commercial driver's license.  According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Williams, 46, was given a breath test for alcohol and tested at .103.  The legal blood-alcohol limit in Ohio is .08.

SLIDESHOW:  Images Of Crash

The driver lost control and the bus ended up in a ditch. The bus was facing north in a southbound lane, Hirsch reported. The bus, a 2000 Ford, was owned by Eastern Horizon out of Columbus. 

The company is also known as Urban Express Transportation, Hirsch reported. In March, the Ohio Public Utilities Commission informed the company that "no further operation may be conducted" because they were not carrying the proper insurance.

The March 31 letter from PUCO suspended the company's registration and said that "no further operation may be conducted until the suspension is rescinded by the commission." 

Hilliard City Schools said they are "distressed" about the crash.

A statement from Hilliard City Schools said, "The district is greatly distressed about this morning's accident involving a charter bus transporting Heritage Middle School students on a field trip to perform at Cedar Point. 

We received information this afternoon from the Ohio State Highway Patrol that the driver of the charter bus was intoxicated and driving without the proper commercial license.  It is our understanding that the driver has been arrested and charged. 

Our first concern, as always, is the safety of our students.  We have contacted the charter bus company, Urban Express Transportation, and they have assured us that the remaining drivers on the trip are all properly-licensed, fully-qualified professional drivers."

According to troopers, there were 14 passengers on the bus.  Twelve were children and two were adult chaperones.  Seven of the passengers were hurt.  One adult was transported to Fisher-Titus Medical Center in Norwalk, Ohio, with a back injury and was released.  Everyone else was treated at the scene and had minor scrapes or bumps, the patrol said.

The students were part of a group of more than 300 students who continued their trip to Cedar Point to perform.

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