CEDAR CITY — Charges have been filed against a bus driver arrested for allegedly carrying drugs and driving under the influence just before he was scheduled to transport a group of students to Disneyland.
Brandon Mark Gillman, 30, of South Jordan has been charged with possession or use of a controlled substance, a second-degree felony; possession or use of a controlled substance, a third-degree felony; possession or use of a controlled substance, a class A misdemeanor; use or possession of drug paraphernalia and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, both class B misdemeanors. Gillman was about to transport a busload of Canyon View High graduates to Southern California for a trip to Disneyland when he was arrested.
Three Utah Trailways buses and drivers had been hired to take the students and were preparing to depart around 11:30 p.m. on May 25 when officers of the Cedar City Police Department and a drug-detecting K-9 went through the luggage.
According to a police probable cause statement, the three bus drivers were told that the dog would search for illegal substances on the bus and were asked if they had any problems. The three drivers authorized the search.
"One of the bus drivers, later identified as Brandon Gillman, became very nervous after learning about the K-9," the charges state. "While I (was) on the bus Brandon was assigned to drive, I viewed him pick up a backpack (later identified as his) open the bag, pull an item out and place it in his pocket."
Describing the behavior as "suspicious," the officer asked to speak with Gillman. He told the man to leave his backpack on the bus while the searches were being conducted.
The K-9 went on one bus and found nothing. In the second bus — the one that Gillman was to drive — the dog "quickly indicated on the bag left in the driver's seat by Brandon."
The officer asked to search Gillman and the man agreed. When asked to empty his pockets, he told the officer he was carrying a prescription medication. He was carrying a bottle holding 17 Endocet pills, the charges state.
Officers said they found no evidence that Gillman had a prescription for the medication.
The officer then asked to search Gillman's backpack and found a bottle holding two Zolpidem pills as well as three plastic bags filled with powder.
"Two had a slight color and a sweet odor," the charges state. "The other had no odor, was white, very fine and was consistent to cocaine. A drug identifying test was conducted and showed negative for cocaine."
Gillman was then taken to Iron County Correctional Facility, where he took a number of field sobriety tests. The man failed all of the tests, according to the charges.
Another test showed the man was "under the influence of impairing substances." A urine test came back positive for cocaine and OxyContin, the charges state, and Gillman was booked into jail.
School officials said they had asked for the search to reassure parents, but were convinced of their importance after Gillman's arrest. They said Gillman's arrest could have prevented the students' celebration from becoming a tragedy.
"In my mind, there's a strong likelihood that we (would be) having a mass memorial service instead of celebrating the accomplishments of these kids," Canyon View High School Principal Richard Nielsen said at the time.
Gillman was released after posting $10,000 bond. His first court appearance will be June 12.