The bus driver at the helm during a crash that killed 15 people in March in the Bronx has been indicted on numerous counts of manslaughter. And Ophadell Williams entered a not guilty plea to those charges, even after a prosecutor said that the defendant knew he was too tired to drive. The end result was that now more than a dozen people are dead.
The fatal crash on Interstate 95, which happened March 12 as the bus was en route from a Connecticut casino to Manhattan, has prompted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to take a series of actions to crack down on the tour-bus industry. And national safety officials are taking a look at the issue, too.
Williams apparently fell asleep at the wheel, and his bus subsequently accelerated to 78 miles an hour. The vehicle turned over and struck a metal stanchion, which cut it in half from the front to the back. Some passengers were decapitated during the horrific accident.
According to The New York Times, at Williams’ arraignment a prosecutor accused the defendant of recklessness — reckless because Williams had been driving during his off hours and was very tired when he was driving back from the Mohegan Sun Casino.
Williams, who didn’t even have a valid driver’s license and has a criminal record, was charged with 15 counts of manslaughter; 15 counts of criminally negligent homicide; 23 counts of assault for the passengers he hurt; reckless driving; and unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.
The manslaughter charges alone each have a maximum sentence of 15 years.
The terrible accident in the spring wasn’t Williams’ first problem as a bus driver, but he had kept the others well hidden. First of all, he had done time in prison for manslaughter and larceny.
And last week the New York inspector general released a report on Williams’ that said at the time of the crash, he had three suspensions to his driving privileges open under the alias of Eric Williams, The Times reported.
Williams, upstanding citizen that he is, had provided false information to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles and the bus companies that wound up hiring him.
The only good to come out of this tragic case is the spotlight it has put on the under-regulated discount tour bus industry.
But that won’t help the survivors of the 15 victims who were slaughtered in the crash.
Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
firstname.lastname@example.org :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.