Bus driver not guilty of manslaughter in NY crash

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 7, 2012 at 6:34 pm •  Published: December 7, 2012
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The March 12, 2011, crash happened on Interstate 95 at daybreak as Williams was ferrying a busload of gamblers to Manhattan's Chinatown from the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Conn. The bus crashed just feet from a road sign that read: "Welcome to the Bronx."

The bus struck a guard rail, toppled over and hit a signpost that tore open the top before skittering to a stop.

The victims were mostly Chinese men and women over the age of 40 who were regulars at casinos. About half died. The others were injured. Survivors missing limbs testified in court, including Ren Xiang Yao, who spoke of how he lost both arms when he raised them up instinctively when the bus crashed. He said he didn't see the crash — though he remembers when the rescue crews arrived.

"I used all the energy I had left and said, 'I'm here, I'm here, please come rescue me,'" he said. "By the time I woke up, I was already in the hospital."

Yao was hospitalized for nearly a month and had several operations.

The crash wracked Chinatown, where many of the passengers lived. At the time, about 30,000 Chinese New Yorkers were boarding discount buses traveling from Chinatown to casinos each week.

City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who represents the neighborhood, said Friday that "justice has not been served in this case."

Jurors also watched video from the scene of the accident and other wounded passengers who testified the bus was unsteady in the moments before it crashed.

Williams had been held in Rikers Island because his family couldn't post $250,000 bail. He faced a maximum of 7½ years to 15 years in prison.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in June that the accident was probably caused by driver fatigue and a bus company that provided too little safety oversight. It stopped short of saying Williams had fallen asleep.

Williams worked for World Wide Tours of Greater New York. Federal regulators shut down the bus operator after the accident, citing safety violations. Williams had not turned in any driver's logs while working for the company as required by federal safety regulations, yet World Wide took no action, federal investigators said.

But the bus company won't face any criminal charges related to the crash, Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson has said.

New York state has stepped up inspections of tour buses since the crash. Dozens of buses have been taken out of service after police found problems with logbooks, licenses or equipment. But there have been several bus accidents since.

___

Associated Press Writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.



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