UPDATE [July 22, 2013]:
Jan. 18, 2013 started as a typical day for 47-year-old school bus driver Michael Asseng. By noon, his entire life was turned upside down. He left his Deer Park home and went to work at ACME Bus Corp., just as he did for the past three years. While he was transporting three youngsters from a nearby school, along his regular route, Asseng said he sideswiped a parked car on Midwood Avenue in Farmingville. Following company procedure, he said he called 911 at 11:55 a.m. to report the accident and a police officer was dispatched to the scene.
Asseng spoke exclusively with snaptwig.com on July 22 and said the police officer conducted three separate breath-analysis tests at the scene, each one, he said, prompted a negative reading. “There was never ever, ever, ever [emphasis added] any evidence that I was intoxicated or impaired by drugs,” he said. Despite the readings, he said he was arrested at the scene and charged with four counts of aggravated driving while intoxicated under Leandra’s Law and driving while ability impaired by drugs.
At the scene, paramedics were called to assess any injuries, and Asseng said an emergency worker watched as the officer repeated the field sobriety tests, but suggested that Asseng was not drunk and in fact was suffering from a medical condition, he said in a phone interview.
Asseng claims that he was taken to the nearby Second Precinct and chained to a bench for seven hours before he was taken to a hospital. Police said he suffered difficult breathing after being taken into custody. He was eventually taken to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, where he was admitted to the intensive care unit. “My doctor said I would have died that night if I wasn’t taken to the hospital,” he said. Hours after being taken into custody, Asseng said the officers asked him to sign for a desk appearance ticket for arraignment on the felony and misdemeanor charges at a later date.
Asseng remained in intensive care for 46 days, he said, while doctors worked to attempt to cure his sepsis. He was told that when he was admitted, he had only 10% kidney function and could not even recognize his own wife.
After his fifth court appearance, the charges against Asseng were dropped. Chris Munzing, a spokesman for the Nassau County district attorney’s office confirmed that the charges against Asseng were dismissed on June 14, 2013.
Asseng said he reached out to snaptwig.com for a follow-up on his story because he wanted his side of the story told and the world to know that the charges against him were dismissed. After his arrest, Asseng said his neighbor found news clippings about him online. “[He] keeps asking me ‘why don’t you run over some more people with your school bus?” Asseng remarked. “I was made to look like a fool.”
Asseng said he couldn’t figure out where police thought he would be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. He did recall telling a police officer that he had recently suffered a medical condition and that he had taken pain medication, but Asseng said the officer “jumped to the conclusion” that he was impaired by those prescription drugs at the time of the accident.
His attorney, Cornell V. Bouse of Lloyd Harbor, told snaptwig.com that his client was taking the medication in line with instructions from his doctor. “It didn’t rise to a level of impairment,” he said of drug levels in Asseng’s blood results taken by police.
Bouse said the district attorney’s office eventually made a motion to the court that the charges against Asseng be dismissed. He said the judge put on the record that there was no trace of alcohol or drugs in Asseng’s system when the levels were taken after his arrest.
Asseng says he filed a lawsuit against Nassau County earlier this month and is seeking unspecified damages. His civil attorney could not be reached Monday evening for comment.
A Deer Park man who works as a school bus driver was arrested Friday after crashing his mini bus into a parked car, while driving the bus with his ability impaired by drugs, Nassau County police said.
Michael Asseng, 47, was arrested at 11:55 a.m. on Friday, after police responded to reports of an accident involving a school bus. According to police, Asseng was transporting four students in a 2001 GMC Omnibus along Midwood Avenue, when he struck a parked car. Arriving officers determined that “Asseng’s ability to operate a vehicle was impaired by drugs,” police said in a news release.
According to authorities, Asseng was driving for Acme Bus Corp., a Ronkonkoma-based company. The four children, aged 6, 8, 8, and 12, were not hurt during the accident. Cops said the students were on the way home from school, but officials did not say which school the children were being transported from.
Representatives of Acme Bus Corp. could not be reached Saturday morning for comment.
After his arrest, cops said Asseng began to have difficulty breathing and was taken to Nassau University Medical Center, where he was admitted for evaluation and treatment.
The Deer Park man has been charged with four counts of aggravated DWI under Leandra’s Law, as well as driving while ability impaired by drugs. He is set to be arraigned as soon as it is practical, cops said. It was not immediately clear if officials plan to arraign Asseng in his hospital bed.