Opioids and the tranquilizer benzodiazepine were found in the system of an Indiana truck driver arrested after his semi collided with a school bus loaded with kids last month on Interstate 39 near DeForest, prosecutors say.
No formal charges have been filed against Wayne Murphy, 42, of Indianapolis. During a bond hearing Friday, Columbia County District Attorney Jane Kohlwey said she expects to file felony charges as a result of the May 23 crash, which left 26 people injured, including five critically. Murphy was ordered held in jail on a $35,000 cash bond.
The Wisconsin State Patrol said Murphy’s semi-truck ran into the school bus, which had pulled to the side of the highway due to mechanical issues. Kohlwey said Murphy likely will face charges of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and reckless endangerment.
She told Judge Alan White during the bond hearing that a preliminary blood analysis showed Murphy tested positive for opioids and benzodiazepine.
Kohlwey said other motorists had contacted police about the truck prior to the crash.
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“Law enforcement were receiving citizen complaints and they were desperately trying to locate it before the worst happened,” Kohlwey said.
In setting a cash bond, White acknowledged the public’s interest in keeping children safe on their way to school or other events.
“My first observation is that when we release our children to a school bus, we understand that its color and lights are designed so that it will be seen in even the most hazardous circumstances,” White said.
Portage defense attorney Ronald Benavides asked Kohlwey when formal charges would be filed against Murphy. She estimated in 10 days.
Murphy is scheduled to next appear in court for a June 7 preliminary hearing.