On June 15, the Pittsburgh Pirates made a trip from Chicago to Milwaukee to face the Brewers in a weekend series. Although the Brewers emerged victorious, that wasn’t the main focus of media attention. Surprisingly, it was revealed that the Pirates’ safe arrival in Milwaukee was a stroke of luck.
During the late hours of Thursday night, while the Illinois State Police were providing an escort for the Pirates as they left Chicago, an unusual incident unfolded. According to a spokesperson for the department, the troopers observed that Ronald E. Funderburke, the 61-year-old bus driver, was not following their lead. Instead, he was driving in the opposite direction, away from the officers who were supposed to guide the team.
While traveling on Interstate 94, the state troopers noticed the driver of the vehicle displaying erratic behavior, prompting them to conduct a traffic stop. A radio transmission suggests that law enforcement initially suspected the driver might be encountering a medical issue. Nevertheless, the spokesperson stated that the police identified various indications of impairment and subsequently made the decision to apprehend Funderburke, charging him with driving under the influence (DUI).
ICYMI: A bus driver contracted to drive the Pittsburgh Pirates from Chicago to Milwaukee on Thursday night was arrested for DUI after the team's police escort noticed he was driving erratically.https://t.co/EdVXXRF5Wv— CWBChicago (@CWBChicago) June 17, 2023
Brian Warecki, the senior vice president of communications for the Pittsburgh Pirates, acknowledged the incident in a statement provided to reporters. He expressed significant concern about the events that unfolded in Illinois, emphasizing the team’s apprehension. Additionally, Warecki assured that all team members arrived safely in Milwaukee and mentioned ongoing communication with relevant parties regarding the matter.
Every year, an estimated average of 10,000 individuals lose their lives in crashes involving driving under the influence (DUI). These accidents contribute to approximately one-third of all traffic-related fatalities. Furthermore, crashes involving drivers impaired by drugs or alcohol result in hundreds of thousands of injuries to innocent individuals.
If the bus had been involved in a crash, it could have resulted in fatalities among the members of the Pirates organization or innocent individuals on the road. Bus accidents are particularly dangerous and have a high potential for causing loss of life. Coincidentally, on the very day when the driver was arrested in Illinois, a bus crash in Canada claimed the lives of 15 people.
Therefore, despite the Pirates’ loss in the baseball series against the Brewers, it is indeed a triumph that they safely completed the bus journey.