RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A Wake County school bus driver who had consumed alcohol was arrested Friday morning after he hit a pedestrian while driving a school bus, officials said.
The incident happened around 10:40 a.m. at the intersection of Bellwood Drive and Cameron Street, which is near Broughton High School and the Village District, according to a news release from Raleigh police.
There were no students on the bus at the time of the crash, police said.
Donald Edward Eli, 60, of Raleigh was charged with impaired driving in a commercial vehicle and operating a school bus after consuming alcohol, police said.
Eli is a bus driver for the Wake County Public School System but has been suspended, according to a statement from the school system.
According to an arrest warrant, Eli had a .23 blood-alcohol level when tested after the crash in which there were injuries.
Police said the bus hit a construction worker on Bellwood Drive despite that man wearing a reflective vest and yelling to stop.
Eli also did not know a person was hit by the bus, according to court paperwork.
“I guess he just decided that he didn’t want to stop anymore and accelerated towards me running into me,” said Carl Rhinehart, who was hit by the bus.
As a school bus bared down on his leg, Rhinehart used what he had at the time — a stop sign — to try to keep the driver from heading deeper into the construction zone.
“Really trying to get his attention I slammed the sign on his hood and yelled at him trying to get his attention and still after that I backed up after I had been hit and he still came forward,” Rhinehart said.
Rhinehart has a hyperextended leg, and is in a brace but is expected to recover.
“I think the most unnerving thing is from what we’ve heard is that he’s saying he didn’t see anything, that fact if he really had that much to drink that he was looking directly at me, made eye contact multiple times and still did this,” Rhinehart said.
Here is the full statement from Wake County Public School System:
This afternoon, bus driver Donald Eli was arrested for operating a school bus after consuming alcohol and impaired driving in a commercial vehicle. He has been removed from all driving duties. He is currently suspended from employment pending our investigation.
We are grateful no students were present on this bus at the time of the arrest.
Our employees are held to the highest standards. The district does not tolerate actions that are not aligned with these standards.