East Hampton Town Police last week arrested the driver of the party bus from which a Hampton Bays teen fell, suffering head injuries, in Montauk on March 14.
Police have also issued a warrant for the arrest of a Hampton Bays man who they say was responsible for obtaining alcohol for the group of 38 teens who chartered the bus.
Erick Jimenez, a senior at Hampton Bays High School, fell 10 feet from an emergency window of the moving bus while it was traveling eastbound on the Montauk Highway. He was hospitalized at Stony Brook University Medical Center for two days.
The driver, Carlos Rodriguez, 44, of Smithtown was charged on Sunday, March 29, with endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, according to East Hampton Town Police Chief Todd Sarris. “We were able to establish significant evidence that he was not only aware that there was alcohol on the bus, but that at some point he attempted to discard the alcohol after the incident took place and told passengers on the bus to discard the alcohol,” Chief Sarris said.
The warrant for Wayner Vasquez, 24, of Hampton Bays charges him with unlawfully dealing with a child, a misdemeanor.
“He was the individual responsible for procuring alcohol for the underage kids,” Chief Sarris said. Police believe Mr. Vasquez fled the country after the incident, possibly returning to his native country of Costa Rica.
A group of teens between the ages of 13 and 19 chartered the party bus from M&V Limousines in Commack, which took them, along with a disk jockey, from Hampton Bays to the Montauk Lighthouse.
The New York State Department of Transportation reported that the bus had passed a safety inspection on March 6, but when the DOT did a followup inspection, it found that the window latch did not operate properly.
“With the emergency vehicle window, when the bus was in a stopped position it was operating fine, but when the bus was driven and stopped suddenly or went over a bump, the window loosened and opened,” said Eileen Peters, a representative of the New York State DOT.
M&V Limousines could not be reached for comment.
No arrests were made for underage drinking because the charge is a violation. Under law, Chief Sarris said, a violation has to be committed in the presence of police and no police actually witnessed underage drinking. “At this point in time, we’d be hard-pressed to prosecute,” Chief Sarris said.
Mr. Rodriguez surrendered himself at Town Police headquarters after questioning and was released on his own recognizance. His arraignment will be in East Hampton Town Justice Court on April 23 at 9:30 a.m.