The man charged with driving while intoxicated after crashing a school bus full of D.C. students in Fairfax County, Virginia, Thursday shouldn’t have been behind the wheel of any vehicle, much less a school bus, the police chief said Friday.
In a conference call Friday afternoon, D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee said the system had gotten “unsatisfactory” answers from the bus company, Rome Charters, as to how the driver had gotten access to alcohol. He said the school system is “pursuing steps to discontinue the use of the vendor,” which the it has been using since 2016.
Troy Reynolds, 48, of Oxon Hill, Maryland, was taking 44 children and four adults from the Ben Murch Elementary School, in D.C., back from a field trip to a pumpkin patch in Centreville, Virginia, at about 2:30 p.m., when he veered off Braddock Road into a ditch, hit a rock and blew out a back tire, the police said.
D.C. Public Schools officials said Friday the children were kindergartners.
School staff convinced Reynolds to follow another bus coming back from the field trip and pull over on Commercial Drive, in Chantilly, and they called 911, the police said.
When officers got there, they reported the smell of alcohol coming from Reynolds, who allegedly tested with a blood alcohol content level of 0.20, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08. He’s been charged with DWI, his second, as well as child endangerment, and he’s being held without bond.
Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis told WTOP’s daily podcast, The DMV Download, that Reynolds’ license had been revoked in Virginia and suspended in Maryland.
“There’s no way on God’s green earth he should have been driving that school bus,” Davis said. Indeed, the police said in a statement Friday that both buses were taken out of service due to numerous safety violations, as was the bus sent to replace the damaged bus.
None of the bus drivers on the field trip, including Reynolds, was properly licensed to operate a school bus, police added.
Ferebee said the charter company told him bus drivers are checked before they leave on their routes, and that the company’s tracking system found Reynolds hadn’t deviated from his prescribed route at any time. The police said Thursday that no alcohol was found on the bus.
The chancellor couldn’t say how many buses Rome Charters operates for the District, or what percentage of the fleet. DCPS has no school buses of its own.
Some of the children on the bus that crashed suffered “bumps and bruises,” Davis said.
They were near a police academy, so the entire Murch contingent — 96 kids and eight adults — played in the gym with Fairfax County police cadets and instructors until Fairfax County school buses arrived to take them back to school.
WTOP’s Megan Cloherty and Dana Sukontarak contributed to this report.