By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A Cheyenne bus driver driving a busload of students to South Dakota was arrested Wednesday evening on charges of driving under the influence.
David Richard Williams, 60, was booked into the Goshen County Detention Center around 7 p.m. Wednesday for driving under the influence and possession of open container while operating a moving vehicle, according to Sgt. Jeremy Beck of the Wyoming Highway Patrol. He was still in custody as of Thursday morning.
He was given warnings for improper lane usage and following too closely.
Beck told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday that a bus driver was stopped Wednesday just before 5 p.m. south of Hawk Springs after the driver of a vehicle behind the bus called in a complaint.
Williams was stopped by a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper, given a field sobriety test, which he failed and then was arrested.
Williams was transporting a busload of Cheyenne East and Cheyenne South high school students to a speech and debate competition in Spearfish, South Dakota when he was pulled over.
As soon as Laramie County School District No. 1 administrators were notified about the stop, officials got to work making sure the students were safe.
A substitute bus driver was sent to finish the trip to Spearfish. Activity sponsors ensured students were warm and safe on the bus while waiting for the new driver, and they also began to contact parents about the situation.
During this time, students with cell phones were also in contact with their parents about what happened during the traffic stop.
Gina Hughes, a mother of one of the Cheyenne South High School students on the bus, said she was angry about the situation when she spoke with Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.
“My son called me around 5:30 p.m. (Wednesday) and said, ‘Mom, I’m just calling to let you know our bus was pulled over. Our driver failed a field sobriety test. They put him in the back of a cop car,'” she said. “I thought it was a joke.”
Hughes and her husband were prepared to drive to Hawk Springs to pick up their son, but were hesitant to do so, as it would cost the Cheyenne schools their chance to compete in South Dakota and a possible appearance at national speech and debate competition.
Hughes did note that she received two phone calls on Wednesday evening from the South High principal, who did tell her and her husband that the bus driver was being replaced with a substitute, but did not elaborate as to why.
“If people don’t press charges for this, they’re stupid,” she said. “This is a failure on the school district. This is a failure on the bus garage. This is a failure on our state education system for not ensuring there is a way for kids to be on a bus without a drunk driver driving.”
On Thursday morning, LCSD1 Superintendent Margaret Crespo addressed an incident regarding a bus driver being pulled over for a traffic stop on Wednesday, but said that since the situation was a personnel issue, the district could not comment as to the nature of the traffic stop.
“At Laramie County School District 1 student safety is our priority,” Crespo said Thursday. “In every instance, while we have students in our care and a situation occurs, we will act first to ensure our kids remain safe. After this occurs, we switch to communication mode.”
Crespo also said the district would follow LCSD1 board policy as it pertains to the situation, and would be readdressing the importance of student safety with all of its transportation personnel.
The incident with the driver caused a social media frenzy on Wednesday evening, particularly in the “Cheyenne and Wyoming News” Facebook group run by Joe Shogrin. Shogrin made posts in the group Wednesday about the arrest, trying to keep parents and community members up to date as the situation unfolded.