A now-former bus driver for the Council Rock School District has been charged with causing a hit-and-run crash and operating a bus while impaired, according to court papers obtained by NewtownPANow.com.
Durham School Services, the company the Council Rock School District pays to transport students, sent an email to parents last Friday advising them that an unnamed driver, a former employee, had been accused of “serious crimes, including driving under the influence and endangering the welfare of children.”
“We are appalled at the alleged criminal conduct carried out by our former driver and can confirm that this driver’s employment was promptly terminated immediately following the incident in question,” the email to parents said.
In court papers filed late last month, Newtown Township and Northampton Township police alleged that Matthew Christopher Dudek, 35, a resident of Bristol Township’s Croydon section at the time of the crash, caused a hit-and-run crash and drove a bus with kids on it while intoxicated.
Dudek was charged with 12 counts of endangering the welfare of a child and single counts of DUI and accident involving damage to an attended vehicle.
According to court papers, Newtown Township police were dispatched to the area of the Newtown Bypass and Richboro Road on December 15 around 2:30 p.m. for a reported hit-and-run crash. No injuries were reported.
The striking vehicle, which was dark colored, left the scene and headed toward Swamp Road, police said.
Patrol units searched the area, but they were unable to locate the striking vehicle at the time.
At 4:34 p.m., Newtown Township police were called to the Durham School Services yard on Swamp Road in Wrightstown Township, which is patrolled by Newtown Township police, for a school bus driver who smelled of marijuana, authorities said.
In the bus depot office, responding officers spoke with Dudek, who explained he was living in a recovery home the night before but was kicked out because he was drinking wine. He explained that drinking in the home violated the house rules and he was kicked out for two days.
On December 15, he took shots of vodka starting around 11 a.m. and then drove to the bus yard around 2:25 p.m., Dudek told police.
Dudek reportedly explained to an investigator that he was assigned school bus 36 and picked up 12 students from Holland Middle School in Northampton Township. He then dropped them off at their stops and went to pick up kids at Richboro Elementary School. However, he did not end up transporting any students from the elementary school.
An officer who was speaking with Dudek noted in court papers that the 35-year-old man had an odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from him. He also was accused of having glassy eyes.
Police said they went to look at Dudek’s black 2018 Volkswagen Passat and noticed damage consistent with what was reported from the earlier hit-and-run crash along the Newtown Bypass.
Dudek told officers he was unable to remember if there was a hit-and-run crash due to his drinking, police said.
At the bus yard, Dudek failed a field sobriety test and portable breath test before he was arrested, police said.
It was noted in court records that Dudek had blood samples taken and they returned with a .234 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC). According to the law, .08 is the legal limit for BAC.
Police said they reviewed security system footage from the bus. Dudek operated.
Dudek, according to a police account of the video, coughed and vomited on the floor of the bus at one point. Later, video showed him unsteady on his feet while walking.
Police noted that no video showed Dudek consuming any beverages while on his route.
Investigators later learned that a Holland Middle School student called her parents on December 15 to report that she thought her bus driver could be impaired. The parent called the bus company, which alerted the school, police said.
At Richboro Elementary School, the principal told Dudek not to leave and noted vomit on the floor. However, he left the school without any students on the bus, police said.
In the statement to the community, Durham School Services said: “We recognize the gravity of the situation and are fully cooperating with local authorities. We sincerely apologize for the concern and distress this situation has caused to students, parents, and the entire Council Rock community. Further, we have thoroughly investigated this incident and continue to improve our systems and procedures to help make sure something like this never happens again in the Council Rock community.”
Dudek, who has moved since the incident to Montgomery County, was charged via summon and is awaiting a March preliminary hearing before District Judge Mick Petrucci.
Editor’s Note: All individuals arrested or charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The story was compiled using information from police and public court documents.