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Police, schools investigating prom party bus arrests - The Galveston County Daily News : Local News

November 27, 2014

Police, schools investigating prom party bus arrests

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Jacob Shears, 24, of Houston was charged with purchasing or furnishing alcohol to minors.

Rachad Tabakh, 51, of Houston was charged with purchasing or furnishing alcohol to minors.

Posted: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 12:30 am

KEMAH — Police, school district officials and a private transportation company are continuing to investigate two Saturday incidents on the Kemah Boardwalk that ended with prom night being cut short for more than 50 teenagers and two party bus drivers charged with providing alcohol to minors.

Officers responding to a medical call on the Kemah Boardwalk about 6:30 p.m. Saturday found a large prom group of about 40 teenagers from Orange who appeared to be in the possession of alcohol on a privately chartered party bus, Kemah Police Chief Greg Rikard said.

Rikard said a student from that group who was rushed to the emergency room remained in the hospital Monday, but he did not know his condition or what caused the teenager’s medical issue.

While officers were inspecting the first bus, Kemah Boardwalk security officers alerted police to a new issue involving a smaller prom group of about 13 students on a different bus, Rikard said.

The more than 50 teenagers were taken to the Kemah Fire Department and told to call their parents to pick them up, Rikard said.

The bus drivers, Rachad Tabakh, 51, and Jacob Shears, 24, both of Houston, were charged with purchasing or furnishing alcohol to minors.

Ashley Meadows, 17, who police allege was acting belligerently, was charged with disorderly conduct and minor in possession.

Police do not suspect either of the drivers purchased alcohol for the teenagers, but they did allow the students to drink. police said.

“As soon as you walked up, you could smell alcohol,” Rikard said. “If he didn’t know, he should have.”

The smaller of the two buses was registered to the Houston-based Grand Transportation Service and was released to a company official, Rikard said.

The other bus was registered to an individual owner, and police are still trying to find a company responsible for the bus, he said.

Police did not confirm what schools the students attended, but one group of about 13 teenagers came from the Lake Jackson area and the larger group of about 40 students was from Orange, Rikard said.

Both groups did plan to attend their high school proms later that night, Rikard said.

Brazoswood High School and Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School each held prom Saturday, according to online calendars on the schools’ websites.

Sherry Combs, a spokeswoman for the Little Cypress-Mauriceville school district, said a committee of school administrators and teachers would meet sometime this week to consider disciplinary action against the students involved.

Students in extracurricular groups at the high school often sign contracts that mandate they uphold a certain code of conduct on and off school property, Combs said.

Tami Sophia, a spokeswoman for the Brazosport school district, said she was initially unaware of any incident involving Brazoswood students in Kemah. Because the students were using a private charter bus and were not consuming alcohol on school property, it’s unlikely they will face any disciplinary action, Sophia said.

There were no incidents involving underage drinking at the prom Saturday, Sophia said.

Karen Zuri, president of Grand Transportation Service in Houston, did not return a phone message Monday but said in an email the company is conducting an internal investigation of the incident.

“Once we are able to gather all the information, we will be able to conclude what actually happened on that evening,” she said. “This is a matter we take very seriously.”

Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady said Monday that it was too early to determine whether additional charges would be filed, either against the charter bus operators or any individuals who may have purchased the alcohol for the minors.

The investigation remains open, he said.