Common sense needed to deter drunken bus trips by teens
The wheels on the bus go round and round -- as did last week's finger-pointing on who was responsible for a bus of drunken teens gone wild.
By week's end, two state lawmakers -- in an attempt to ensure that it never happened again -- were drafting legislation requiring adult chaperones on such trips.
Do we need to legislate what ought to have been common sense?
The luxury of hindsight provides clues that something was amiss even before 42 teens gathered in Garden City to board a bus to "Nowhere."
An official for the company, Coachman Luxury Transport of Farmingdale and Woodbury, said the firm offered, for a fee, to provide an adult chaperone.
The offer was turned down, but the company apparently didn't follow through with the next logical query -- if not us, who would be responsible for a bus of partying teens?
And, apparently, neither did enough of the teens' parents.
In addition, a Newsday story last week noted that State Police -- who charged the driver, Luis A. Guevara-Henriquz, 26, of Hempstead, with child endangerment -- did not find coolers on the bus.
So how, then, did teenagers manage to smuggle more than 100 cans of beer, and what troopers described as gallons of whiskey and rum, aboard?
OK, so adolescents -- as adults most assuredly know from personal experience -- can be wildly, and often weirdly, inventive.
How did that big a haul -- even if divided among, say, 42 purses or backpacks -- get past parents who saw the teens off; or, for that matter, the driver, who presumably saw most, if not all, of the high school students clamber aboard?
Unless, of course, the alcohol was put on the bus before the students boarded.
State police say the driver was responsible for the behavior of his passengers, some of whom were drunk and pulled out a long side seat and otherwise tore up the inside of the bus.
Wasn't driving safely and responsibly -- given the precious cargo of young people aboard (and, yes, even adolescents, to their parents, remain precious) -- supposed to be his major responsibility?
As it is, according to the company, the driver called his boss and pulled the bus off at a rest stop in Southampton after hearing a noise and pulling back a curtain to reveal what was happening behind him. Police, responding to a 911 call, arrived almost simultaneously.
And then comes the mystery of who procured the bus.
Supposedly the company offered a voucher because an earlier bus trip to a prom had problems. Last week, the parent who had rented that bus said he knew nothing about a voucher.
Meanwhile, the bus driver told his superiors that a parent gave him $120 cash and an $80 tip before the bus of 16- and 17-year-olds pulled away from a home in Garden City.
In short, no parent publicly is fessing up to anything -- involving the bus, the booze, or their babies' bad behavior.