A bus accident in New Rochelle, New York on March 12 left 15 people dead, according to USA Today. The driver, Ophadell Williams, 40, from Brooklyn survived the bus accident. The bus was owned and operated by Brooklyn’s World Wide Travel, and the bus accident left surviving passengers with various personal injuries.
Various reports have between 31 and 32 passengers total on the bus, which was traveling back to Chinatown in Manhattan from Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. The bus flipped on its side at approximately 5:30 am near the Westchester County and Bronx border in New York.
Williams initially told investigators that he swerved to avoid a tractor-trailer on the road. Police have located the tractor-trailer that was allegedly involved, but have not said whether it was actually involved in or caused the bus accident. Williams’ account of events seems to contradict some of the passenger’s stories, which claim that Williams was driving erratically for a long while before the accident.
Results of drug and alcohol tests were still pending at the time of the article, but Williams does have a criminal background. He was convicted on manslaughter charges in 1990 and served two years in prison, and then was convicted of grand larceny in 1998 for stealing an $84,000 check from a Police Athletic Fund.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is demanding to know how Williams was able to obtain a commercial vehicle license with such an extensive criminal record.
“Given Ophadell Williams’ criminal record and driving history, I have directed New York state inspector general to commence an immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding how Mr. Williams was able to obtain and retain a commercial driver’s license,” Cuomo said.
Christopher Hart, vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, says they plan to further interview Williams as well as witnesses. Hart is calling for a very thorough investigation of how Williams spent his time in the hours and days leading up to the bus accident.
“We want to know what he ate, what he drank, how much he slept, everything we can find out about the activities of the driver for 72 hours prior (to the bus accident),” Hart told reporters from USA Today.
Williams and 19 other passengers were taken to various New York hospitals, where the survivors were treated for various personal injuries, ranging from missing limbs to blunt force trauma.
Investigators has confiscated the bus’s engine control module in hopes that it may tell them how fast the bus was traveling at the time of the accident.