Driver of bus carrying 50 kids to Lake County school didn’t have a license, police say

A Milwaukee man who was driving a bus with 50 juveniles headed for Wauconda Middle School after a school trip Thursday was issued several citations, including not having a valid commercial driver’s license, police said.

A Lake County Sheriff’s deputy on patrol about midnight on Route 12 near Valentine Court in North Barrington saw a 2005 bus commit improper lane use, Sheriff’s Sgt. Ari Briskman said.

The deputy determined that the vehicle registration plates were expired, and an interstate fuel tax sticker required for a commercial vehicle had not been issued.

The bus was stopped, and it was determined that Santos Popoca-Mendez, 44, had neither a commercial license nor any driver’s license, Briskman said.

About 50 juveniles returning from a school trip were on the bus, which was traveling from O’Hare International Airport to Wauconda Middle School, Briskman said.

Popoca-Mendez was arrested on charges of driving without a valid driver’s license. An employee of a local towing agency who had the necessary commercial license drove the bus from the traffic stop to the school without issue, and the children were released to their guardians, Briskman said.

Using portable scales, the deputy who made the stop and is a commercial motor vehicle enforcement officer found the bus to be overweight for its registration, Briskman said.

Popoca-Mendez was taken to the Lake County jail and cited for improper lane usage, not having an Interstate Fuel Tax Act sticker and driving a vehicle found to be overweight for its registration.

He was released with a notice to appear May 20 in Round Lake Beach branch court, Briskman said.

Police spoke with the owner of the bus company, M & M Tours LLC in Milwaukee.

The investigation is ongoing, and more charges are possible, Briskman said.

Mick Zawislak - Daily Herald Media Group

Mick Zawislak has covered Lake County for the Daily Herald since 2002