Suffolk County Police: Accused Blows .23, Open Vodka Bottle Found Inside Bus

RONKONKOMA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — He’s entrusted with the lives of children on his school bus, but on Thursday Robert Stundis was accused of being reckless — driving a mini-bus while drunk.

“It’s bizarre that somebody would drive that intoxicated, especially a school bus,” Suffolk County Police Dep. Sheriff Thomas Carlo told CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey.

Carlo pulled Stundis over on the Long Island Expressway late Wednesday afternoon after numerous 911 callers noticed a mini-bus swerving in and out of lanes with a blown front tire.

Carlo said Stundis’ speech was “Very slurred, very mumbled.”

Police said the 48-year-old had a half empty bottle of vodka in the bus and registered a blood-alcohol level of .23, nearly triple the legal limit. Police said he couldn’t even finish the sobriety test.

“He had to use the hood of the car and he almost fell into traffic, so we had to stop the test,” Carlo said.

When asked about the bottle, Carlo said, “It had a cap on it but half of it was drank, it was gone.”

Stundis’ bus didn’t have any students inside because he had just dropped them off. The Three Village school district he was driving for said, “We are completely horrified by these allegations.”

The people Stundis lives with in Bohemia chose not to talk but some stunned neighbors did.

“You’d like to think you are trusting your bus driver with your kids’ lives, basically,” Krista Donnelly said.

“It’s astonishing. It’s a horrible thing. I can’t think of too many things that are worse,” Jennifer Cornish added.

Stundis has been working for the ACME bus company for 10 years and had a clean record. Company bosses told CBS 2’s Hennessey: “It is a surprise. [Stundis] is suspended without pay pending an internal investigation by our safety department.”

Police said Stundis was arrested about 20 years ago for DWI but the charge was pleaded down to an impaired driving conviction. Still, it happened well before he began driving students for this bus company.

“When we entrust our children to the care of others, we expect more,” Sheriff Vincent F. DeMarco said. “Mr. Stundis will be held accountable for violating that trust.”

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