The town of Kittery says it failed to check the driving record of a summer camp employee who crashed a van full of children on Interstate 95 in early August.

The finding was released Friday as part of an internal probe into whether the town followed its hiring and background check procedures for John E. Guy, 21, of Kittery, the camp counselor who was behind the wheel of the van that crashed in New Hampshire on Aug. 10, injuring some of the 11 children on board.

Had town officials performed the Maine state records check, they would have discovered that Guy had been convicted twice through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles administrative process of driving to endanger, has two speeding tickets on his record and was cited three times for driving with a suspended license since he was issued a license in 2013.

The oversight was attributed to a miscommunication between the town’s human resource staff and the Kittery Community Center staff, who hired Guy for his seasonal counselor position.

Although a retooling of the hiring processes in 2017 produced a detailed checklist of steps required in the background check process, there was no clear division of labor determining which office should complete each one, the report said.

“It was known that both the (Kittery Community Center) and Human Resources were responsible for different parts of the hiring and onboarding process,” the report said. “The checklist did not specify who was responsible for each part of the process.”

As a result, neither the community center staff nor human resources conducted the driving record review of any seasonal employees, including Guy.

It was not clear how many seasonal employees did not have their driving history checked because of the failure, and the town said in its statement that it would not answer questions about the report.

“Because the job description did not include driving as a duty, the requirement to collect the driving record was not apparent during the hiring and onboarding process,” the report said.

“The internal investigation found there were no irregularities in the hiring process for the van driver. The internal investigation concluded that the driver had a valid driver’s license appropriate for operation of the van, with no medical restrictions, during the time of employment with the town. He was trained on the safe operation of the van.”

DROVE VAN 3 OTHER TIMES

Guy was selected to drive the van after he was hired, the report said. Only one other counselor drove a van during the summer program. Other times, a full-time staffer would drive the vehicles, the town said. Guy had driven three times before the crash.

The town also said that its criminal background check of Guy did not return any hits, although Guy has two convictions on his record for violating the conditions of his release, a misdemeanor charge.

The town said the criminal background check was conducted using a national proprietary database, which did not return any conviction information. The town also conducted a local criminal records check, but it was confined to the county in which Guy resided and did not capture the totality of his criminal record.

It was unclear whether the driving infractions and Guy’s minor criminal record would have changed the town’s decision to hire him.

The town said it will improve its background check procedures, and will review its background check service plan, which it did not name. The town also will explore using the state’s InforME system, which makes statewide criminal record and driving history information available electronically.

MEDICAL EMERGENCY

Guy’s two criminal convictions in Maine are for violating the conditions of his release, the first in March 2018 and the second in May 2018. He was fined $200 each time, according to the State Bureau of Identification.

Guy had been placed on leave from his position with the town pending the outcome of the investigation, Kittery Town Manager Kendra Amaral said previously.

New Hampshire State Police said Guy had a medical emergency immediately before the 2010 GMC Savana transport van carrying 12 other people left Interstate 95 and crashed into the tree line in Greenland, New Hampshire, about 9:20 a.m. on Aug. 10.

Although police have not cited the specific medical issue that Guy experienced, he disclosed in a prior unrelated court case that he suffers from epilepsy and experienced grand mal seizures in the past.

Guy was a counselor at a summer camp known as the SAFE Summer program, which is run through the Kittery Community Center.

The town said previously that criminal history and driving record checks are standard in the hiring process, and that the town employs an online service to complete the checks. The unnamed third-party company cross-references a national criminal database, a terrorist watch list, the sex offender registry, and a county criminal court search, the town said in a statement.

A driving record check was absent from the enumerated list of checks in the town’s initial statement.

LICENSE SUSPENDED

Guy has twice been convicted of driving to endanger, first in August 2013, when he was 16 and less than a month after his license was issued. The second conviction came in August 2016. His record also includes two speeding tickets – one for driving 45 mph in a 35 mph zone and another for driving 62 mph in a 40 mph zone – and three convictions for driving with a suspended license, along with two instances of failing to show a valid inspection sticker.

Both the driving record and the criminal record came up in routine checks conducted by the Portland Press Herald after the crash.

It’s also not clear what the town or the BMV knew about Guy’s epilepsy, but Guy’s license was suspended immediately after the crash, based on a report from the New Hampshire State Police, which responded to the crash scene.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

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Twitter: MattByrnePPH

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