NORWICH, Conn (WTNH) — Thirty-year-old Edwin Gonzalez spent the weekend behind bars after police say he was behind the wheel of a school bus while under the influence Friday morning.
A witness told police he saw Gonzalez strike a snowbank, sideswipe an SUV on North Main Street damaging the driver-side mirror, and drive erratically through the city. Police say he even went the wrong way down a one way street.
“It’s disturbing,” said Glenn Pelt, who went to high school in Norwich. “I have two little kids, three- and six-year-old girls. One that just started kindergarten and she goes on the bus everyday, so it’s a little worrisome to hear something like that.”
When police caught up with the bus they say there was an aide onboard along with seven special needs students, two of them juveniles. They were on their way to a community-based work program.
According to court papers, the officer “did not detect the odor of an alcoholic beverage, but his eyelids were heavy and droopy.” Gonzalez did tell police he has used muscle relaxers and Percocets not prescribed to him because he was sore from snow shoveling.
We asked Sgt. James Veiga if he thought Gonzalez was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
“It could be either at this point,” he answered.
Gonzalez was suspended from First Student while he faces several charges, including DUI, risk of injury to a minor, and reckless driving.
At the police station a blood alcohol test was performed. His BAC was zero. A urine sample was also taken to test for other drugs. Because those results are not back the judge lowered his $25,000 bond to $5,000.
In court, News 8 learned that Gonzalez has a clean record except for a conviction in 2004 for the sale of a controlled substance.
“I was absolutely appalled,” says Erika Russo of Norwich. “I don’t understand why there are not better background checks done.’
As of the close of court Monday, Gonzalez had not made bond.