59 Year Old, Robert Murphy of Ashland, Massachusetts was arrested Saturday Night (October 18th, 2014) and accused of drinking and driving a school bus with 25 members of the Hopkinton High School cross country team on board while on the way back from the Barnstable Fairgrounds in Falmouth, MA. Cross Country Team Coach Jennifer Fairbanks called the police after watching Murphy run 3 red lights and miss the exit off of 495 to Hopkinton.
Murphy had been accused of DUI twice prior to the incident, the state CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) check conducted did not include Murphy's prior offenses since they took place prior to the five year period the CORI check was conducted.
During a press conference held Monday (October 20th) at the School Administration building when asked if parents were angry and have they reached out, Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Cathy MacLeod responded "Parents are very upset, we're all very upset, it's very scary for everyone in the school department certainly for the students, we are actively in an investigation, we have had constant conversations beginning all day Sunday into today. Our school resource officer has been interviewing all of the children." MacLeod stressed that the reaction from parents has been appeasing since the incident is being taken very seriously.
Dr. Cathy MacLeod talked about extra precautions that will be taken to ensure that a similar incident does not happen again. "Unfortunately this incident has resulted in me looking into how we can do things differently that reaches beyond state requirements. Moving forward it's not going to be good enough in Hopkinton for drivers to have any kind of record." MacLeod emphasized that the transportation department and provider have been informed that finger prints will be required immediately for all drivers. MacLeod also ensured that CORI checks on all drivers have been reviewed prior to the standard five year period and there are no other records compared to what Murphy had.
Police Chief Edward Lee commented on why the bus was not stopped earlier: "Right now the case is still under investigation, we have many witnesses we are speaking with including the adults and students on the bus. It's an ongoing investigation but we are certainly going to get to the bottom of that and find the answers."
Other questions asked included when the driver started drinking and if there were any signs of intoxication on the way down or if the driver could have been drinking at the track meet. Chief Lee commented that the help of the media and public is encouraged to determine what happened and help with the investigation. "We would certainly like to use the medias help to determine if anyone had any contact or seen anything at the location that raised any suspicion."
Robert Murphy has been driving school busses in Hopkinton since 2006 and there have been no prior problems during his time driving in Hopkinton. Murphy is currently being held without bail until a hearing Tuesday October 21st. If you have any information you are encouraged to contact the Hopkinton Police Department.