A Friday trip to Toronto went from a fun night out to a nightmare for 34 University students when their bus driver became unresponsive and began to swerve across the three-lane divided highway.
Michigan Charter Service bus driver Gerald Blazey, 47, was arrested Friday night by Canadian police for driving under the influence of drugs, which caused him to swerve erratically across the highway.
Members of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity were en route to Toronto for a formal when Blazey started driving perilously on Queen Elizabeth Way in Canada, about 20 minutes outside of Toronto.
Michigan Charter Service dispatcher Kevin Rose said though the company has not yet spoken to Blazey concerning the situation he will no longer be driving for the company.
“They came home safely,” Rose said. “All is good now.”
LSA sophomore Lucas Brockner, president of ZBT, said Blazey acted strangely throughout the bus ride, though his driving did not become scary until after crossing the border into Canada.
“He was doing a lot of kooky stuff,” Brockner said. “When someone called him ‘sir’ he said, ‘Sir is my dad’s name. I’m Gerry, I like to party.’ ”
Brockner, who said he sat at the front of the bus, said he observed more strange behavior from Blazey throughout the ride, like when the driver requested that passengers turn off the lights because he couldn’t see despite the fact that no lights were on.
Brockner also said when the group stopped to get food before crossing the border into Canada, Blazey drove away for about 20 minutes without telling anyone where he was going, leaving all passengers at the stop.
Business sophomore Chad Stark, social chair for ZBT, said when Blazey first began swerving a little bit in the right lane, he and Brockner repeatedly asked Blazey to pull over the bus.
Stark said Blazey eventually pulled over and stepped off the bus to check the tire pressure. When he stepped back onto the bus, he stumbled a couple of times and had trouble getting up the stairs.
Brockner said that shortly before becoming unresponsive, Blazey told him there was a problem, making it difficult to switch the gears on the bus. However, at that point, Brockner said he pointed out that the bus was automatic.
Blazey then began swerving across the highway, Stark said, drifting to the left, then to the right. Blazey then went from the right lane all the way across to the highway before coming back to the right lane, Stark said.
Brockner said Blazey hit the guardrail to the left of the highway a couple of times as he swerved.
“In the last five minutes, it was the scariest,” Brockner said. “I was directing him for a little bit because he said he couldn’t see.”
Stark said that other drivers on the highway honked and tried to get Blazey’s attention for him to pull over.
“Everyone on the bus was kind of freaked out because we were swerving; cars were honking at us,” Stark said. “We tried to get him to pull over, but he wasn’t responding.”
Stark said that after a few minutes of swerving through all three lanes, Blazey pulled the bus to a halt.
“Eventually, he stopped the bus,” Stark said. “He didn’t even pull over; he just stopped on the highway.”
Police were at the scene shortly after the bus stopped. When police asked Blazey questions, he would not respond, Stark said.
Canadian police reported that Blazey had the prescription drug in his system at the time he was arrested, according to an article in the Toronto Star yesterday.
After Blazey was taken into custody, police called a city bus to take the 34 passengers the rest of the way to Toronto, Brockner said.
Rose, the dispatcher, said the company sent another bus driver to Toronto to bring the students back to Ann Arbor on Saturday, adding that as far as he knows Blazey is still in custody.