On Tuesday, Kent Quillia, 59, pleaded not guilty to various charges, including DUI, reckless endangerment and negligent operation of a vehicle.
According to court documents, on September 20, he drove drunk while transporting two special needs students from Whitcomb High School in Bethel, to a program in Hartford. That route takes about 35 to 40 minutes to drive.
“They bus students down to this program daily, they have a morning run and an afternoon run,” said Warren Uzzle, the Director of Student Services for Windsor Northwest Supervisory Union.
Court records show Mountain Dew bottles, containing whiskey, were found on the bus. Investigators say Quillia admitted to bringing them onboard.
During the drive, a paraeducator was on the bus with the students, court documents say. That person told authorities Quillia was driving erratically for most of the drive, and sometimes veering over to the rumble strips.
“And he said as they were leaving the parking lot he (Quillia) also hit a sign or grazed a sign. So it was a compilation of things happening on the bus run that bothered him,” said Uzzle.
That paraeducator alerted the principal who immediately called Butler Bus Service, the company Quillia worked for. But, he was already in the middle of another run; this time carrying a middle school soccer team from South Royalton.
Butler Bus Service Owner Emo Chynoweth said the system worked- as soon as there was a complaint action was taken.
“They dispatched two drivers to intercept the bus. One of course to drive the bus and one to bring him back,” said Uzzle.
Chynoweth says Quillia was then fired from the company.
And despite this incident, the superintendents for both schools say they will continue to use the bus service.
“I think people took swift action to address a concern and they did as well as they could under the circumstances,” said Chynoweth.
This was Quillia’s first offense.