An Ashland man was ordered held without bail until a dangerousness hearing Tuesday after his arraignment on charges that he drunkenly drove a school bus filled with high school students, police said.
Robert E. Murphy, 59, appeared Monday in Framingham District Court to face charges that include operating under the influence, third offense; and child endangerment while operating under the influence.
Assistant Middlesex District Attorney Nate Burris said Murphy, who was driving the Hopkinton High School cross country team to a meet Saturday in Falmouth, showed signs of intoxication driving to and from Falmouth.
Burris said that on the way back, during a trip that lasted from about 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Murphy, according to witnesses, missed at least one red light, took the wrong exit, missed a restaurant he was intending to take the team to, didn’t use his blinkers, hit rumble strips, and smelled of alcohol. His speed fluctuated from 45 miles per hour to 70 miles per hour.
When police stopped the bus, Murphy allegedly said, “You’ve got me,” and “This is really bad,” said Burris.
He also allegedly said, “If one of my kids ever did this, I would kill him.”
Defense attorney Dan Campion said the defendant has “significant physical problems that ... could play a big role in this case,” but did not elaborate on what the problems were.
He also said his client was “59 years old and has not had any trouble for 25 years.”
Twenty-five cross country runners were on the bus, police said Sunday.
Police met the bus at the school parking lot. Murphy was arrested after failing a series of sobriety tests. He was transported to the Hopkinton Police Department.
Hopkinton School Superintendent Cathy MacLeod said, “Parents were very upset. We’re all very upset.”
The parents “are pleased that it’s something we are looking at very seriously,” she said at a news conference Monday afternoon.
“Legally, he was licensed and met all the requirements to drive the bus,” said MacLeod.
“Unfortunately, this incident has resulted in me looking at how we can do things differently that reaches beyond state requirements. Looking forward, it’s not going to be good enough in Hopkinton for drivers to have any kind of record,” she said.
She said she had reviewed the criminal background cheks of the more than two dozen bus drivers working in the town and “there are no other records that compare to the one that this individual had.”
She also said she believed that the bus company that the town contracts with, Michael J. Connolly & Sons Inc., had “followed all the regulations” that were appropriate, so the town wouldn’t hold the incident against the company in future contract negotiations.
Globe correspondent Jacqueline Tempera contributed to this report.