Bus Driver’s Pretrial Hearing Continued

From the Beckley Register-Herald:

Bus driver’s pre-trial hearing continued

Christian Giggenbach
Register-Herald Reporter

A pre-trial hearing in the case of a Monroe County school bus driver charged with DUI has been continued until March 10 because his court-appointed lawyer asked to be dismissed from the case, officials said Tuesday.

Clyde Watson Jr., 62, of Union, was scheduled to appear Tuesday before Monroe Magistrate Nancy Crews, but his court-appointed lawyer, Jeff Rodgers of Lewisburg, filed a motion to recuse himself, according to court documents.

The reason for the recusal request was not given in the document, and Rodgers was not available for immediate comment Tuesday.

Watson, a 14-year veteran bus driver, was charged with DUI while transporting minors after he crashed his bus into a ravine with 11 children on board Feb. 4. A preliminary breath test indicated Watson had a small amount of alcohol in his system, .022.

About a week later, Watson apologized to the community and board members in a letter given to schools Superintendent Lyn Guy in which he admitted to an ongoing alcohol problem and being impaired the day of the bus crash. The school board held an emergency meeting the following Monday and announced in a brief news release that Watson had resigned.

However, after obtaining both of Watson’s letters through a Freedom of Information Act request, The Register-Herald learned Watson did not resign his position, but rather the letter stated he was “retiring effective immediately.”

When asked about the discrepancy Tuesday, Guy said Watson could not make up his mind on whether to resign his position or retire and he chose to retire after learning he risked some benefits if he quit his job.

“He told me he was going to lose some of his benefits if he was fired, so I wrote the news release as a resignation,” Guy said by phone Tuesday. “We had already set up a termination letter and had a termination hearing scheduled. I don’t know if it makes too much difference. My goal was to make sure that he never drove another bus again.”

If convicted, Watson faces two days to 12 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.

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