Parents and students who traveled on a bus before attending the Freeport [Illinois] High School prom Saturday night said Tuesday the bus driver was verbally abusive and caused injury to several passengers when he stopped suddenly on a return trip from Rockford.
Illinois State Police arrested Robert Irwin, 31, of Millington, Tenn., after he arrived at the Masonic Temple in downtown Freeport driving a bus with 26 teenagers planning to attend the prom. Irwin, the owner of Amazing Transportation of Crystal Lake, was cited for obstructing justice, reckless driving, and other offenses relating to licensing, insurance and equipment for the bus he was operating.
Heather Thomas, who was on the bus, said Irwin "slammed on the brakes," at the entrance to
Freeport on the U.S. 20 Bypass after arguing with a passenger who requested additional time for the teens on the bus.
"I’ve never been so scared in my life," Thomas said.
Thomas said she and other passengers were standing and listening to music when the bus stopped suddenly, causing the teens to fall forward or lose their balance. Thomas said her dress was ripped as a result of the incident, and many of the girls were crying and complaining of ripped clothing. One passenger said several decorative fingernails were ripped off her fingers when the bus stopped suddenly.
After the incident, Kyle said he and the other teens sat down and the music on the bus got quiet.
"I was really mad. I mean, we’re going to prom and my girlfriend is crying, and people were hurt and scared," Marcum said.
Thomas said Irwin made derogatory comments to the girls on the bus, and after stopping suddenly, became verbally abusive and turned onto Hollywood Road, away from downtown Freeport.
"He started screaming at us and telling us that he was going to let us off in the middle of nowhere," Thomas said.
Sure this guy was a complete (and criminal) asshole but isn’t there an inherent safety issue with standing on a moving party bus? Not to ruin anyone’s fun, but shouldn’t milling around a party be limited to stationary locations? Also, doesn’t this validate my long-standing contention that there should be a co-driver like a co-pilot on a plane?
Well, that’s one prom they’ll never forget. Go read the whole thing.