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Mar 18, 2009 9:52 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Teen who fell from 'party bus' in stable condition; charges might be filed

Mar 18, 2009 9:52 AM

A teenage boy from Hampton Bays suffered a head injury when he fell 10 feet from the window of a moving luxury bus in Montauk on Saturday night, but his condition has improved and he was released from Stony Brook University Medical Center on Monday.

East Hampton Town Police report that the 17-year-old boy, Erick Jimenez, a senior at Hampton Bays High School, was part of a group of 30 teens between the ages of 13 and 19 who had chartered a 1997 Prevost “party bus” from M&V Limousines in Commack to take them, with a deejay on board, from Hampton Bays to the Montauk Lighthouse, and then to the beach.

The teen fell out of an emergency window of the eastbound bus while it was traveling at an estimated 40 mph in a 55-mph zone on Montauk Highway, near West Lake Drive, at approximately 10:35 p.m.

East Hampton Town Police Chief Todd Sarris said that there is strong evidence that there was underage drinking on the bus—officers confiscated bottles of alcohol and beer. “It was in plain view on the bus,” Chief Sarris said. Police also found bottles of alcohol that had been discarded in close proximity to the bus, which the teens later admitted they had thrown on the side of the road in an attempt to hide the evidence.

Chief Sarris said there is indication that the teen, Erick, was among those who were drinking prior to the incident, but that police have not obtained his blood alcohol content that night from hospital records.

There is evidence that the bus driver was aware that people on the bus were drinking, but Chief Sarris added, “Whether he knew there was underage drinking, we don’t know.”

The owner of the luxury bus and limousines company, Mark Vigliante, said that the company policy is to allow no alcohol on a bus if a group is underage. He said the bus driver had told him that when he picked up the teens, he told them no drinking or smoking would be allowed on the bus. The driver did make stops to let the group out because they wanted to smoke cigarettes.

“If they were drinking, he was not aware,” Mr. Vigliante said. “He stopped a couple of times, and they could’ve done whatever because he doesn’t have control over what happens outside the bus. They could’ve snuck it on—I don’t know.”

So far, no charges have been filed in connection with the incident. Chief Sarris said East Hampton Town Police plan to complete the investigation and take the findings to the district attorney for review before they decide on the most appropriate charges. “It is more than likely that there will be charges filed against those who took an active role,” the chief added.

How exactly Erick Jimenez fell out of the bus window is still unclear. Chief Sarris noted that the bus had been reconfigured so that there were couches running under the windows from front to back, rather than typical bus seats. The boy was sitting on top of the back of one of the couches and fell back through the emergency window. Chief Sarris said it is unknown whether it popped open by itself, was open at the time or was pushed open by accident.

Mr. Vigliante said that the only way an emergency window can be opened is if someone pulls the red handle and opens it. The bus had passed a New York State Department of Transportation inspection on March 6.

“The only way something like this could happen is if they were wrestling, horsing around, and hit the thing by accident. These windows are designed only to open if a lever is pulled in the case of an accident,” Mr. Vigliante said. He said nothing like this had ever happened before in his company’s experience.

“The buses are safe, usually the safest way to travel,” Mr. Vigliante said. “For someone to fall out of the window like that, it’s just a shock. I’m glad the kid is all right.”

Town Police had the Suffolk County Motor Carriers Unit complete an examination of the bus early Sunday morning, and the New York State Department of Transportation did another full examination of the bus on Tuesday to see if there was some malfunction of the window, Chief Sarris said. At the time of publication, details about these inspections had not been released.

According to Mr. Vigliante, the bus driver said that from what he could hear, a couple of kids at first had noticed that the teenager was missing and were unsure if he had fallen out the window or not. They thought he possibly had been left behind at the last stop. Others then realized that he had definitely fallen out of the bus. The driver stopped the bus, looked back and saw a pickup truck stopped at the side of the road. He ran back and saw the teen on the ground, unconscious. An ambulance soon arrived on the scene.

A crew from Montauk Ambulance took him to the East Hampton Airport, where he was airlifted to Stony Brook University Medical Center and admitted in serious condition.

His father, who asked not to be named, said his son had a severe head laceration, and was given nine or ten stitches. “My son is really hurt, and I’m just really worried. He’s in critical condition,” the father said on Monday.

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darwin awards
By littleplains (305), olde england on Mar 16, 09 12:22 PM
By barnbabe (64), westhampton beach on Mar 16, 09 1:10 PM
First of all, why would you let your thirteen year old go on a "party" bus? Secondly, why would you let your thirteen year old go on a "party" bus with 19 year olds?
and nobody saw anything........
By private (27), sag harbor on Mar 16, 09 10:45 PM
Unbelievable. Parents of the young kids should never have allowed them on this party bus. There is no way my child would get permission to do this. Where was the chapparone?? Perhaps the limo company should demand that a parent be present. Lucky the kid only had a laceration, he could be dead and this would be a much different article. Totally stupid and completely preventable. The parents should get the lashing!
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Mar 17, 09 7:06 AM
The limo service was hired to transport your kids, not supervise them. 30 teenagers on a PARTY BUS, with out a chapperone? Parents, what were you thinking?
By lol@hb (20), hampton bays on Mar 17, 09 9:25 AM
Erick, my prayers are with you for a speedy recovery.
By lol@hb (20), hampton bays on Mar 17, 09 9:27 AM