The bus driver who was allegedly drunk final month when she twice crashed transporting campers residence from the Baiting Hole Scout Camp had an empty beer bottle close to her seat on the bus, a prosecutor mentioned at her arraignment in Suffolk County Prison Courtroom Tuesday.
Diane Juergens, 61, of Ridge pleaded not responsible to a 38-count grand jury indictment that features 20 felony counts of aggravated DWI with a toddler within the car and 10 counts of endangering the welfare of a kid, court docket information present.
Assistant Suffolk County District Legal professional Kim Carson advised Choose Stephen Braslow that Ms. Juergens crashed the bus twice after a camp counselor on board advised her she had missed the second cease on the camp, failing to select up the remaining camp attendees she was alleged to drive residence July 13. She backed right into a stone pillar on Sound Avenue that for many years has marked the doorway to the Oak Hill neighborhood as she tried to make a u-turn earlier than crashing right into a tan GMC Yukon as she tried to make her method again to camp to select up the extra campers. Ms. Carson mentioned that whereas the motive force of the truck stopped, Ms. Juergens didn’t as she once more handed the opposite cease on the camp.
“She drove proper previous the second cease the place the campers have been nonetheless ready and went proper again to the unique location the place she [had] picked up the campers who have been already on the bus,” Ms. Carson advised Choose Braslow.
At a press convention following the arraignment, Suffolk County District Legal professional Timothy Sini mentioned a blood pattern taken following her arrest revealed Ms. Juergens had a .30% blood alcohol content material, greater than 3 times the authorized restrict.
“That isn’t somebody who can perform in any respect,” Mr. Sini mentioned. “And she or he selected to get behind that wheel and endanger the lifetime of every a type of kids.”
Mr. Sini additionally identified that Ms. Juergens was about half-hour late selecting up the campers.
Talking along with his shopper at his aspect exterior the courtroom, Ms. Juergens’ legal professional, Dennis Lemke of Mineola mentioned she’s “very sorry.”
“She’s grateful nobody was damage in any respect,” he mentioned.
Mr. Sini was joined on the press convention by Alisa McMorris of Wading River, whose son Andrew was killed by a drunken driver whereas climbing with fellow Scouts in 2018, and the dad and mom of Dennis Lane, who was injured in the identical crash. The district legal professional identified that simply weeks earlier than Ms. Juergens’ arrest, a lodge at Baiting Hole Scout Camp was devoted within the McMorris’ identify.
“The irony couldn’t be thicker,” Mr. Sini mentioned.
Ms. McMorris mentioned she couldn’t put into phrases how troublesome it was to be taught of Ms. Juergens’ arrest involving scouts from the camp the place her son had not too long ago been honored.
“When my son handed away I used to be naive sufficient to suppose that individuals on Lengthy Island can be shook and it could change what we have been doing, however that’s clearly not the case,” she mentioned.
Ms. McMorris mentioned she believes the easiest way to forestall such incidents is to cross laws to make necessary anti-drunk driving know-how in new vehicles.
If convicted of the highest cost beneath Leandra’s Legislation, Ms. Juergens faces 2 1/3 to 7 years in jail, Mr. Sini mentioned. She stays free with out bail, however with alcohol monitoring from the Suffolk County Division of Probation. Her driver’s license has additionally been suspended and an order of safety has been issued for every of the passengers on the bus.
A spokesperson for First Scholar Inc., a nationwide firm that operates chartered buses and offers transportation to high school districts in Suffolk County, mentioned final month that Ms. Juergens’ employment had been terminated.
She’s due again in court docket for a convention on Sept. 15.