St. Joseph bus driver cited for carrying too many passengers

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

Oct. 22, 2012 at 5:22 a.m.
Updated Oct. 23, 2012 at 5:23 a.m.

The driver of the St. Joseph High School bus carrying 28 volleyball players that rolled was issued a citation for driving a bus carrying too many passengers.

James Clint Parks, 67, was driving the school's volleyball team on the morning of Oct. 13 when he drifted off U.S. Highway 183 North in Gonzales County and struck a road sign.

The restriction on Parks' renewed commercial driver's license permitted only 24 passengers to be on the bus, the Department of Public Safety confirmed on Monday.

On the day of the rollover wreck, 32 riders - including 28 players, three coaches and the driver - were on board.

"We were not aware of that restriction of that license," said school principal Bill H. McArdle. "He's driven that safely without any violations."

After hitting the road sign, Parks overcorrected and entered the southbound lane, facing an oncoming tractor-trailer.

The driver swerved again to avoid a collision and the bus flipped, landing on its side.

"He performed in a very dangerous situation admirably," McArdle said. "The transportation director did not notice the restriction on the renewed license."

McArdle suggested Parks may have received a restriction on his license because he may have driven a smaller vehicle for his renewal.

"If he had asked, we certainly would have allowed him to renew with a school bus," McArdle said. "Mr. Parks has a very good record with us."

Parks has driven a bus at St. Joseph High School for the past six years.

DPS requires commercial license holders to renew every five years.

The citation, issued by the DPS, will total $165 in fines and court fees, said Gonzales County DPS Sgt. Anthony Rodriguez.

Additional details from DPS were unclear, including whether fatigue was a factor in the wreck.

While Parks has declined to comment, his daughter Tiffany Bowen has been more forthcoming.

"I'm not satisfied," said Bowen, after hearing about the citation. "The whole situation has been really screwy."

Last week, Bowen said she planned to sue the Gonzales County DPS office for citing fatigue in a preliminary report.

In earlier reports, Bowen said she suspected a blown tire caused the crash.

Rodriguez said all six tires were intact.

"The right tire was partially damaged after the accident," he said.

When asked whether the release of the final report has been delayed because of Bowen's earlier threat to sue, the sergeant said no such delay had been made.

"DPS isn't delaying anything," Rodriguez said. "It still hasn't been 10 business days since the incident. We still have time."

DPS troopers have 10 business days to file their reports.

The final report will be released Tuesday morning, Rodriguez said.



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