15 killed in Bronx charter bus crash; Police searching for big rig driver

03/14/2011 // Greensboro, NC, USA // Personal Injury Lawyers News // Nicole Howley

New York, NY—A violent collision early Saturday morning, March 12, 2011, claimed the lives of 15 people and hospitalized 17 others, when a charter bus overturned on I-95 after allegedly being clipped by a passing tractor-trailer. The fatal automobile accident occurred in Queens near the Hutchinson River Parkway exit at around 5:30 a.m., reported the New York Times.

According to reports, the charter bus driver said he was transporting 32 people from the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville to Chinatown, when a 18-wheeler clipped the bus from behind. The collision caused the tour bus to overturn and slam into a sign post that nearly sliced off the entire top of the bus.

The driver of the tractor-trailer fled from the scene.

Responding emergency crews pronounced 13 people dead at the scene and transported 19 others to St. Barnabas and Jacobi hospitals for treatment of their injuries. Six of the injured passengers were considered critically injured, two were moderately wounded and 11 others sustained minor injuries. As of Monday, two of the injured victims had succumbed to their life-threatening injuries, bringing the death toll to 15 people.

The identities of the fatally wounded and hospitalized victims are being withheld at this time.

Surviving passengers told police that bus driver Ophadell Williams, 40, of Brooklyn, had dozed off several times, waking up after hitting the roadway rumble strip, right before the bus careened out of control, reported the New York Daily News. Williams did pass a breathalyzer test.

A trucker contacted police on Sunday, stating he was driving behind the bus and saw it swerve and weaving several times before the crash. His big rig was impounded for inspection to see if it was the 18-wheeler involved in the collision.

Police are still currently looking for the driver of the tractor-trailer. A black box on board of the bus is being reviewed to see if it gives clues on how the wreck occurred.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration stated that World Wide Tours, who owns the bus, has an overall safety record as “satisfactory,” although the company recently experienced trouble with federal regulators for issued with fatigued drivers.

Investigations are underway.

Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley-Legal news for New York bus accident lawyers.

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