A school bus driver has been charged with aggravated driving under the influence of prescription drugs after Crystal Lake police said he crashed a bus carrying students Wednesday morning.
Police responded about 7:30 a.m. to the parking lot of Hannah Beardsley Middle School, 515 E. Crystal Lake Ave., after a Community High School District 155 and Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47 bus with children on it struck another bus in the loading zone in front of the school, Deputy Police Chief Derek Hyrkas said. No one was injured, and a driver was the only occupant of the second bus.
While investigating the cause of the crash, officers determined that 75-year-old Wayne Desparte, the driver of the bus carrying the children, was possibly under the influence of prescription drugs.
Desparte, of the 4300 block of Greenfield Drive, Lake in the Hills, was charged with aggravated driving under the influence and child endangerment after the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office reviewed the case, police said. He could serve up to three years in prison if convicted.
“We believe he was under the influence of drugs, and it was a contributing factor to the cause of the crash,” Hyrkas said.
Hyrkas would not say what type of prescription drugs were found, how many children were on the bus or what the bus number was.
Desparte also struck a black Jeep Renegade while in transit to the school on southbound Terra Cotta Road north of Route 176. Both crashes resulted in minor damage, police said.
Police are seeking the identity of the driver of the Jeep Renegade and are encouraging the owner or anyone else with information on the investigation to contact police at 815-356-3620.
Desparte is being held in the McHenry County Jail, where he remains pending a bond hearing before a judge.
The Transportation Joint Agreement is the busing service that drives about 12,000 students a day from Districts 155 and 47. Hyrkas said he could not confirm what organization Desparte was a driver with.
“We do not comment on personnel issues,” District 47 spokeswoman Denise Barr said in an email. “We fully support the local police department’s investigation and are committed to student safety.”
In an email to parents, Hannah Beardsley Principal Cathy Alberth said parents of students on the bus were contacted by school administration.
TJA officials could not be reached for comment.