Florida school bus driver arrested for driving 40 kids home while drunk, deputies say

A Flagler County school bus driver is out on bond after deputies say he drove dozens of middle school students home this week while drunk.

The sheriff's office says Mark McNeil, 60, had a blood alcohol content level of .32 and .31, which is four times the legal limit in Florida. 

According to deputies, McNeil arrived for his afternoon shift on Wednesday and a co-worker said they could smell alcohol and reported it to supervisors. 

"Keeping his usual routine, McNeil would attempt to pick up his school bus. However, he would drive off in a bus not assigned to him and proceed to his usual pick-up location at Buddy Taylor Middle School to pick up students on his afternoon route," the sheriff's office said. 

About 40 children from the middle school were picked up and McNeil begin to drop them off at their bus stops. At some point, McNeil reportedly used the bus radio to notify the district that he was having a medical emergency.

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"McNeil’s supervisor would eventually find him on his route near the intersection of Karas Trail and Karat Path. McNeil exited the bus and fell to the ground complaining he couldn’t breathe. Flagler County Fire Rescue responded and transported him to AdventHealth."

Deputies then responded to AdventHealth and say McNeil tried to flee. He was taken into custody moments later. 

"Deputies could smell alcohol coming from McNeil and he was showing signs of intoxication while resisting arrest."

In bodycam video released by the sheriff's office, McNeil is heard saying ‘don’t hit me' multiple times as deputies are arresting him. 

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"This drunk thought it was okay to endanger 40 children and other drivers by driving a loaded school bus significantly impaired," Sheriff Rick Staly said. "Thankfully, no one was hurt as a result of his actions. I commend the employee who reported him to school officials. Anyone whose careless actions endangers lives of children and other drivers deserves to be locked up, which he was."

McNeil was arrested for Driving Under the Influence with Passengers Under 18, Resisting Officer without Violence, and at least one charge of Child Neglect. He could face 39 additional counts of child neglect.

The sheriff's office says that three days prior, the Florida Highway Patrol cited McNeil for Failure to Obey a Stop Sign when he was involved in a school bus crash while driving the same afternoon bus route.

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