Brighton, N.Y.--- The teenage driver who hit into the rear of a school bus in Brighton last week is facing charges.
Brighton Police announced Monday John Zakhary, 16, will be charged with reckless driving, speed not reasonable and prudent, failure to stop at a stop sign, failure to keep right, and violation of a restricted junior driver's license.
Reckless Driving is a misdemeanor charge according to Brighton Police Chief Mark Henderson. The rest are traffic violations.
Henderson said that Zakhary was driving a white 1995 BMW on Warren Avenue Tuesday (October 9) when he crashed into the rear of a school bus carrying students from Council Rock Elementary School. No one on the bus was hurt.
Zakhary was driving three teens from Brighton High School at the time of the accident. One of his passengers, Scott Collins, was seriously hurt in the crash. He remains in guarded condition at Strong Memorial Hospital. Chief Henderson said Collins remains in the Intensive Care Unit.
While the investigation continues and is simultaneously being referred to the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, the initial charges begin to tell a story about what happened on the afternoon of October 9 just before 3:30 p.m.
"The vehicle was being operated in a speed well in excess of the posted 25 mph speed limit," Chief Henderson said at a Monday press conference. "I have an idea about how fast the vehicle was going (but) right now I will not be releasing that. The reconstruction phase is still in process.”
The failing to stop at a stop sign citation likely relates to the intersection of Warren Avenue and Branch Avenue just east of the crash scene. A failure to keep right charge also relates to alleged acts occurring moments before impact and is unrelated to the crash with the school bus according to Henderson.
When asked by 13WHAM News if he believes another collision almost occurred Chief Henderson said only, “That's what we're looking at.”
Given Zakhary’s age and junior license status, the mere fact that he had three other teens in the vehicle with him would be in direct violation of the restrictions that come with that license.
“The restrictions are one passenger, that's not what happened in this case,” Chief Henderson said. "For those that may be listening to me that are younger, driving has a lot of responsibility. Being a new driver, a relatively young driver, that also carries a lot of responsibility.”
In an effort to limit future crashes like this one Chief Henderson’s team has been stepping up patrols in the area of Warren Avenue that is known as a popular “cut-through” street for drivers looking to avoid the congestion of Monroe Avenue. Neighbors tell 13WHAM News that they’ve seen numerous police patrol cars in recent days and watched tickets being written at all hours of the day.
The police are also working with the school district on ways to better police the practice of multiple teens riding in cars driven by students with junior licenses.
"I am working with the Brighton School District. I have been in contact with Dr. Kevin McGowan to see what we can do,” Chief Henderson said while adding that education is the most crucial component. "The Department of Motor Vehicles provides educational material. We also are asking the parents to take an active role in this. Talk to a young driver, if you're going to give a young driver permission to use the vehicle let them know what your expectations are as a parent.”
Zakhary must appear in Brighton Town Court on Monday, October 29.