ICE: Driver in close call with Pittstown bus already had two encounters with border patrol

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the van driver involved in the close call with a school bus last week in Rensselaer County had already had two encounters with Border Patrol.

Video shown FIRST ON 13 shows a school bus stopped on Route 7 in Pittstown last Tuesday. A girl was about to get off the bus. The doors opened, then quickly shut as a white van came barreling through on the shoulder.

Angel Fernando Pandiguana Pachar, 22, was the driver, said investigators. He is in this country illegally and has no license, they said.

“We couldn’t even drug test him,” said Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin. “If an American citizen had done that exact same thing, a licensed driver, they would have been drug tested. When you get your license, you agree to that. But since he’s unlicensed, we couldn’t even legally drug test him. How crazy is that?”

Pachar is a citizen and national of Ecuador, according to ICE, who had two encounters with U.S. Border Patrol May 11 and May 12, 2021, near Santa Teresa, New Mexico. Both times he was removed to Mexico. 

“He should have been removed not to Mexico, but to Ecuador, because when you bring him to Mexico, he turned right around, clearly, and came right back across the border which he definitely did at some point because if he was removed twice, he somehow got back in here,” said McLaughlin. “And that’s because our border is wide open.”

Thursday, two days after the crash last week, officials said he showed up at the Albany ICE office, where they took him into custody. He’s now being held at their Batavia processing center.

“But unbelievably, he drove to the appointment to see ICE,” said McLaughlin. “Talk about not getting it! He just continued to drive and endanger the public for another couple of days by driving illegally in our country. As well as being here illegally, he’s driving illegally.”