"I can't believe it. It's crazy," Tyler Bower said. "We had no idea he was drunk, but we were concerned because we were in a ditch at some point."
Bower was one of 23 Oswego East High School students on board the party bus. They were headed to prom on Saturday night when their driver, Richard Madison, was arrested in Glen Ellyn on the way there.
Bower said neither he nor the other teens smelled alcohol on the driver, but they knew something was off.
"His eyes were, like, completely red," Bower said. "He was done."
According to the DuPage County Sheriff's Office, Madison, 54, had a blood alcohol level of .222, nearly three times the legal limit, when he was arrested. Oswego East Principal Jeff Craig said they were alerted to what was going on while the bus was still on the road.
"We got the bus there and had a plan for detaining the driver to determine what the next steps were. So I think my first response was, 'Kids are safe,' second one was, 'This is unbelievable,'" Dr. Craig said.
Limos Alive, the company that provided the party bus, said Madison has worked for it for only a few months. Limos Alive released a statement Monday, "We want to express how sorry we are to the students, their parents and the school district.... The driver's history showed no indication that he would put his passengers at risk. He was employed as a school bus driver for years and was currently employed as a school bus driver."
Madison has said that he was not intoxicated, and blamed mechanical problems for the erratic driving. He said the wheels of the party bus were out of alignment.