Fatal Texas Bus Crash To Go To Grand Jury


Posted on 4th July 2013 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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A casino bus crash that killed three people and injured dozens in Texas has prompted at least 13 lawsuits so far and a criminal investigation, according to the Associated Press.


The accident took place April 11 on a highway in Irving, Texas, when a bus operated by Cardinal Coach Line Inc. was taking a group of senior citizens from Dallas to a casino in Oklahoma. The bus was driven by Loyd Rieve. He and the  bus company have been named as defendants in more than a dozen negligence lawsuits filed in Dallas and Tarrant counties, AP reported.

Rieve was cited as at fault for the fatal crash in an initial report released just days after the accident, according to AP. And now the Texas Department of Public Safety has turned its file on the case over to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, which plans to present it to a grand jury.

In the initial report, according to AP, 65-year-old Rieve told officials he might have blacked out before the accident. He lost control of the bus, which then went off the highway, hit a concrete barrier and fell on its side.

The passengers killed in the crash were Sue “Casino Sue” Taylor, the 81-year-old who organized the trip; Alice Stanley, 82; and Paula Hahn, 69.

In 1998 Rieve was driving a bus that hit and killed a Good Samaritan who was helping at an accident scene near Dallas, AP said.  A grand jury cleared Rieve of any criminal charges, but two suits were filed over the death of Chad Rosell, 22, of Minnesota.

In the suit filed by Rosell’s family, a jury found Central West Motor Stages negligent for hiring Rieve, according to AP, but didn’t award damages, finding that Rosell was at fault for the accident that killed him.


Bus Driver Goes On Trial For 15 Manslaughter Charges In Crash


Posted on 28th September 2012 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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A prosecutor this week blamed a bus driver’s fatigue and sleep deprivation for an accident that killed 15 passengers on a tour bus that was returning from a Connecticut casino back to Manhattan’s Chinatown, according to The New York Times.


Ophadell Williams, 41, went on trial in the Bronx on charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide stemming from a March 12, 2011, crash. In that early-morning accident, Williams crashed the bus into a stanchion, ripping off its roof and killing passengers.

One passenger was decapitated, and one of the survivors lost both his arms when he raised them up to protect his head, according to The Times.

The prosecution alleges that although Williams had been educated about the dangers of driving while tired, instead of resting up for his night shifts he was driving around in a rental car, according to The Times.

In contrast, Williams’ defense attorney claimed that the tour bus was cut off by a tractor-trailer, causing the accident, The Times reported.

If convicted, Williams could be sentenced to 7 1/2 to 15 years in prison.

The National Transportation Safety Board this summer issued a report that cited driver fatigue and lack of oversight by World Wide Travel, the bus’s owner, for the accident.




Toue Bus Driver Says He Doesn’t Remember Accident


Posted on 6th July 2012 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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A tour bus driver who was ejected from his vehicle in a crash Wednesday in New Rochelle, N.Y., has told police he can’t remember what happened, according to The Journal News. He sustained a head injury when he was thrown through the bus’s front window.


In a horrific crash on Interstate 95, 48-year-old bus driver Wei Chen of Brooklyn was found 150 yards from the spot where his bus stopped, the local paper reported. He was on the pavement, and was conscious.

The 23 passengers on the bus were also taken to the hospital for treatment, but didn’t suffer any major injuries, The Journal News reported.

Police allege that Chen was speeding on wet highway when he lost control of the bus going around a curve according to The Journal News. Chen doesn’t speak English, but through an employee at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx he said he couldn’t remember what had happened, The Journal News reported.

The tour bus was on its way from Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut to Queens shortly after 6 a.m. when the accident took place. Police suspect that Chen fell asleep at the wheel and then the bus struck a median, traveling several hundred feet along a guardrail, The Journal News reported.

The bus is owned by Star Tag of Brooklyn, which has received four citations in the past for driver fatigue, according to the local paper.


Bus Company To Pay $9.5 Million To Family Of Nurse Who Died After Being Hit By A Bus


Posted on 4th January 2012 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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It seems that 2011 was the year of fatal tour bus crashes, accidents that drew government scrutiny and crackdowns on the bus industry in states such as New York.

One of the issues has been the need for more stringent background checks on bus drivers. Some drivers involved in fatal accidens have been found to have criminal records, including Ophadell Williams, who was indicted for manslaughter in the deaths of 15 passsengers killed when his bus crashed in the Bronx.

Such was the case in the death of Angela Reid. 

Under a settlement, a Staten Island, N.Y., bus company has agreed to pay $9,5 million to Reid’s estate, the New York Daily News reported Wednesday. Reid, a surgical nurse, died of injuries she sustained when she was struck by a bus driver with an extensive criminal record, Rufus Jones.  


Needless to say, Jones was less than forthcoming when he applied for a job with Atlantic Express Transportation. When he filled out his job application, he “forgot” to mention that he had 31 criminal convictions and a suspended New Jersey driver’s license, according to the News.

Jones was driving an express bus in Manhattan when he went through a red light at 34th Street and Madison Avenue and struck Reid, who was on her way to her job at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, the News reported. Reid, the 34-year-old mother of two sons, was crushed and sustained devastating injuries, which resulted in surgeries and the amputation of her right leg.

Nonetheless, she died about three months after the Jan. 21, 2009 accident. In an interview with the News, Jones expressed remorse for Reid’s death but said his criminal record played no part in the accident.

But her employer, Atlantic Express, is paying the piper, to the tune of $9.5 million, via the settlement approved by in the  Bronix Supreme Court. The money will be placed in a trust fund for Reid’s sons Dante, 9, and Devante, 11, according to the News. They now live in Florida with their father.       

New York Addresses This Year’s Dramatic Rise In Tour Bus Accidents


Posted on 14th August 2011 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.,  made a great point a few weeks ago when he suggested that there should be a national solution to stem the rash of tour bus accidents in 2011. He pointed out that there have already been more bus crashes this year so far than there were all of last year.

Several tour bus accidents made headlines just this weekend and the end of last week. Early Saturday morning in Pennsylvania, 14 people were injured and had to be hospitalized when a Greyhound bus en route to St. Louis overturned on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.    


Just days before that, on Thursday, Nickelodeon “iCarly” star Miranda Cosgrove broke her ankle when her tour bus got into an accident on Interstate 70 in Illinois. The 18-year-old had been on her way from a show in Ohio to Kansas, where she’d been scheduled to perform Friday. Cosgrove had to cancel her summer tour because of her injuries.    


But those accidents pale when compared to the March 12 tour bus crash in the Bronx that killed 15 passengers. That bus was transporting people back from a Connecticut casino to Manhattan’s Chinatown.  

Many of these accidents happened very early in the morning, just before or right about dawn. In several cases, police suspect that drivers fell asleep behind the wheel. But why has this issue surfaced so often this year? 

With the recession taking its toll, perhaps bus companies have laid off drivers, meaning those who are left have to work longer shifts. Or perhaps drivers, financially pinched, are volunteering to do more runs even if they are tired, to pay family bills. 

In New York State at least, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to address the problem. His administration late last month, via the state Department of Transportation (DOT),  launched a crackdown on charter bus companies, suspending the operating licenses of eight “poor performing” tour bus operators.


“The eight companies are being directed to ceaseoperations under their New York licenses within five business days,” Cuomo’s administration said in a press release. “All of the companies have failed three or more roadside inspections of buses or drivers in the last six months of intensified state enforcement or failed their scheduled semi-annual bus inspections or received a federal out-of-service order.”

In a statement Cuomo said, “The frequent, and at times flagrant, violations of state and federal safety regulations by charter bus companies has gone on for too long and put too many lives at risk.”

The Administration said that its action would pull some 100 buses off New York state roads pending a full DOT review of the companies’ vehicle fleets, drivers’ records, and company finances before the suspensions can be lifted.

The reviews will take place at the expense of the suspended companies, according to the press release. Failure to achieve full compliance will result in the permanent revocation of the companies’ right to operate in New York.

Some of the failing operators have separate interstate operating licenses issued by the federal government.

“DOT is working with the U.S. Department of Transportation to assure that sub-standard operators that lose their New York licenses cannot continue to operate in New York under a federal license,” the press release said.

DOT is also adding 20 new inspectors to step up enforcement of bus industry regulations and carrier compliance. The additional staff will perform about 11,000 safety performance inspections of high-risk operators and 2,000 safety audits of poor performing motor carriers annually, according to the Cuomo officials.

These enforcement activities are expected to generate $2 million in civil penalties annually.

In the past four months, DOT has performed 3,000 roadside bus inspections with 542 drivers and/or vehicles being placed out-of-service. This compares with 615 buses inspected at roadside in all of 2010 — a nearly a 400 percent increase.

DOT also conducts more than 160,000 routine bus-safety inspections annually, and works with the State Police to conduct more than 120,000 surprise roadside inspections of buses and trucks annually.

These carriers were suspended: Best Trails and Travel Corp.;  Party Ride;  A & W Tours Inc.; Touch of Class & Coach Inc.;  Silver Star Limo Co.;  Zoladz Limousine Service;  Long Island Limousine Service Corp.; and Big Apple Bus Charter Inc.

At least New York is making an effort to address the problem head-on. It would be nice if other states did the same.