ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The driver of a bus transferring cruise ship passengers in Alaska was arrested Friday after numerous passengers called to report he was highly intoxicated and driving erratically, state troopers said.
Steven McKinley, a seasonal worker staying in Anchorage, was arrested on a count of driving under the influence and 46 counts of reckless endangerment, one for each passenger.
Troopers said passengers called shortly before 9 a.m. Friday to say that the intoxicated driver wouldn’t pull over.
“They complained that he was driving erratically, that he was weaving all over the road,” troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said.
About 20 minutes later, passengers called again and said the driver had pulled over and was walking north at milepost 12 of the Seward Highway.
Ipsen said there was bad cell coverage after the first call and troopers didn’t even know what color the bus was. They ended up pulling over two other buses that were not involved before zeroing in on the correct bus, whose passengers ranged in age from 2 years old to retirement age.
McKinley’s blood alcohol level registered at .341, more than eight times a commercial driver’s legal limit of .04, Ipsen said. She said transport drivers are normally very safe, that their livelihoods depend on being careful.
McKinley was a new driver for Anchorage-based Alaska Cruise Transfer and Tours, which sent out another driver to transport the passengers, Ipsen said.
When he was hired earlier this month, the man passed a drug and alcohol test, said Anna Lewis, a spokeswoman for the transport company.
She said McKinley was no longer employed by the company.
McKinley was fine when he arrived for work at 4 a.m. Friday to begin heading to the town of Seward, 110 miles to the south, to pick up cruise ship passengers, Lewis said. The driver of another bus drove behind McKinley’s bus and said he drove correctly on the way to Seward.
Lewis said the news of the arrest was completely unexpected. During his brief employment with the company, the driver was very nice to passengers and was always on time, she said.
Lewis agreed that the alleged behavior is an anomaly in the industry.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” she said. “This is out of this world.”
McKinley was in custody in Seward. It’s unclear if he has an attorney.
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