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Tour bus driver faces 3rd DUI

Staff writer

A tour bus driver was arrested Thursday morning after a deputy saw him drive onto the shoulder of US-77 while passing a loaded gasoline truck, then drive onto the right shoulder when coming back into the northbound driving lane.

Deputy Joel Womochil was monitoring Bicycling Across Kansas riders at 190th Rd. and US-77 as they pedaled toward the roundabout just outside Marion when a Village Tours bus passed a loaded Groendyke Transport truck.

The bus came back into the northbound lane after passing the truck, it came within a foot of his squad car bumper, Womochil said.

Womochil immediately pulled onto the highway, and the bus driver pulled over before Womochil even turned on his red lights.

Mark A. Larsen, 57, Stillwater, Oklahoma, told Womochil he was driving to Fort Riley to pick up soldiers.

The drive from Stillwater to Marion takes roughly three hours.

Larsen clearly was heavily intoxicated, Womochil said. As Larsen sat in Womochil’s squad car, the odor of alcohol was strong.

Womochil asked Larsen whether he had been drinking while he drove the bus, and Larsen said he’d drank a fifth of whiskey — 25.4 ounces — at 7 p.m. the evening before.

When Womochil asked Larsen if there were passengers on the bus, Larsen said he “wouldn’t have done that if he’d had anybody,” Womochil recalled.

He arrested Larsen on suspicion of driving a commercial vehicle while under the influence of alcohol as a third offense, reckless driving, and driving on the left in a no-passing zone.

Jeff Arensdorf, owner of Village Travel, which employed Larsen at that time, said he is no longer employed.

“He was terminated immediately,” Arensdorf said. “He was a fairly new employee. His background check did come up clean.”

The company does random drug and alcohol tests on its more than 300 drivers, and Larsen had not failed one, he said.

“We’ve have never had this happen — ever,” Arensdorf said.

Larsen is being held in lieu of $5,000 surety bond. The tour bus was towed to Auto House.

Last modified June 22, 2022

 

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