Crime & Courts

Attorney: Bus driver accused of Crystal Lake DUI crash took anxiety pill that morning

Wayne Desparte, 75, of the 4300 block of Greenfield Lane, Lake in the Hills
Wayne Desparte, 75, of the 4300 block of Greenfield Lane, Lake in the Hills

The attorney representing a man accused of crashing a school bus twice in one morning while children were aboard said the man had taken a newly prescribed anxiety pill the morning he was arrested.

Three days before 75-year-old Wayne Desparte was charged with driving under the influence of drugs, his doctor prescribed the bus driver of 16 years anxiety and sleeping pills, Woodstock attorney Ray Flavin said Friday. Desparte didn’t go to work the next day so he could monitor how he felt on the medication, Flavin said.

Video footage from the bus’ camera system May 2 showed Desparte driving erratically on his route before the crashes, according to police reports. No children were injured in the crashes.

“The school bus seemed to be driving normal for the first portion,” Crystal Lake police officer Eric Stopka wrote in his report. “Then at one stop, the bus completely passed a student by at least a bus length. The bus drove erratically and is seen straddling the double yellow lines, which separate the lanes.”

Moments later, the bus lightly bumped the rear of a dump truck and trailer in front of it, although the other driver didn’t seem to notice, the report claims. Desparte then stopped inside the intersection of Hillside Road and Terra Cotta Avenue, causing a passing bus to enter another lane of traffic, according to police reports.

About 7:25 a.m., the bus stopped behind a Jeep at Terra Cotta Road and Route 176, where Desparte is accused of “creeping forward” and striking the Jeep. After realizing there was no damage, the other driver got back in the car and eventually drove off, reports show.

“During the event with the Jeep, Wayne can be seen closing his eyes and facing his head upward before the bus struck the Jeep,” Stopka wrote.

A breath test found that there was no alcohol in Desparte’s system, but after he failed multiple roadside sobriety tests, officers arrested him and charged him with driving under the influence of drugs.

Flavin declined to say which medications Desparte was prescribed, but he said his client no longer has a job.

“It’s horrific. It’s nightmarish,” Flavin said.

Reports show that after a police interview, officers asked Desparte to complete a written statement. Police said Desparte didn’t want to write “DUI” because it would be incriminating, so he ripped up the paper.

Flavin said he was not aware of those accusations. Desparte’s next court appearance is set for July 18.

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