By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The mothers of several Cheyenne students whose bus driver was arrested on charges of driving under the influence of intoxicants are encouraging parents of other students to call the Goshen County District Attorney’s office and press charges against the driver.
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. He was given warnings for improper lane usage and following too closely.
Williams had been transporting students from Cheyenne’s South High School to Spearfish, South Dakota, to a regional speech and debate tournament. Although it was earlier reported that students from Cheyenne’s East High were also on the bus, they were in fact on another bus. The two buses were traveling together.
He was pulled over after a person driving in a vehicle behind the bus called the police to report the bus was being driven eratically. Once pulled over, Williams was given a field sobriety test, which he failed, according to the Wyoming Highway Patrol.
A number of mothers and family members of children on the trip told Cowboy State Daily they were frustrated with the lack of transparency about why Williams was pulled over, since Laramie County School District No. 1 officials have declined to give a specific reason, citing personnel policies.
“This was a very traumatic experience for my son,” Jessica Lyday, whose son is a freshman at East High, said. “He’s only 14 and he was accelerated into the varsity program, so this was his first long trip like this. Even though the principal at East said the kids are being troopers about this situation, I know my son was affected by this. He had to see somebody get arrested for the first time ever.”
Lyday intends to press charges against Williams for child endangerment, as does Johanna Thomas, whose daughter was on the bus with South High students.
“I think he needs to have a child endangerment charge for every kid that was on the bus,” Thomas said.
Thomas said her daughter did not notice Williams was intoxicated, but did report that the bus kept hitting the rumble strips on the side of the road that are intended to alert distracted drivers they are close to the road’s edge.
Lyday said she would pick up her son up from Spearfish on Friday for the return trip to Cheyenne on Saturday and added she would be pushing for parents to be allowed to transport their children to and from events.
Both Thomas and Lyday said they had never had issues with LCSD1 bus drivers before Wednesday.
Going forward, they suggested breathalyzers could be installed in the buses, although Lyday expressed disappointment in having to go so far.
“How sad is it that we would even have to think of them having to use a breathalyzer to start the bus to drive our children?” she said. “But maybe that does need to be the case. Because obviously, somewhere, somebody dropped the ball and allowed this to happen. And I want to know what they’re going to do to prevent this from happening again in the future.”
The mothers said they did not blame the speech and debate coaches for the situation and actually praised them for being supportive of their children in such a traumatic and bizarre situation.
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.