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Bus Driver Removed After Report of Odd Behavior

Worcester, MA (February 17, 2010) - On 01/14/2010 Officer Russell Veroneau responded to a dispatch call to 1218 Main Street, the location of Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church, for a report from a citizen who had called in to report that the operator of bus #67 needed to be checked out because his driving appeared odd. As officer Veroneau was heading to the scene he requested that Worcester EMS respond as well in case this was a situation involving a medical condition. Upon the officer's arrival he observed bus #67 parked in front of OLA with approximately 30 children in the bus in the age range of 8 to 10 years old. Shortly after his arrival Worcester EMS arrived.

Officer Veroneau boarded the bus and had conversation with bus driver John Reynolds. The officer explained to the driver why he was there and asked Mr. Reynolds to step off of the bus so that they could have conversation away from the children. Once off the bus, the paramedics checked his vital signs. The driver explained to the paramedics that he suffers from a pre-existing medical condition which requires continued medication. Once the paramedics were finished evaluating the driver officer Veroneau continued to have conversation with the driver. The officer's observation was that the driver's eyes appeared to be glassy while his speech pattern was mildly slurred. The officer then had conversation with the paramedics and based on their report of the drivers blood pressure, the admitted prescription medication that the driver is taking and the physical appearance of Mr. Reynolds, officer Veroneau made the decision, in the best interest of the safety of the children, to have the driver replaced.

The bus company was then contacted and the supervisor as well as a replacement driver arrived at the scene; Mr. Reynolds was relieved from his duty for the day. The paramedics offered to take Mr. Reynolds to the hospital for further evaluation but he refused. The bus company manager was informed of the circumstances which led up the encounter as well as the findings from the paramedics and the officers own conclusions. Officer Veroneau explained to both Mr. Reynolds and the manager, Ms. Betty Brigham that this incident would be documented and that a copy would be sent to the registry of Motor vehicles for further review. Officer Veroneau did fill out a Registry of Motor vehicle Immediate Threat Suspension/Revocation form indicating the circumstances. The replacement driver took over the controls to bus #67 and it then drove off to finish its route. Mr. Reynolds was not cited for any traffic offense.

Officer Veroneau, a 16 year veteran of the police force, has received numerous letters of appreciation from citizens throughout the City of Worcester, made a decision based on sound judgment; he based his decision on the input from paramedics, his own observations and from information provided by Mr. Reynolds. Officer Veroneau was acting prudently and on the side of caution to ensure the safety of the children. Police Chief Gary J. Gemme strongly supports the actions of officer Veroneau to ensure public safety.

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