September 15, 2011: 2011, Issue 37
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Today’s news:

Bus Driver Indicted, Pleads Not Guilty In I-95 Crash

The Bronx District Attorney’s office believes that the bus crash near exit 14 on I-95 which killed 15 passengers in March could have been avoided, and it could have been avoided by the bus’ driver.

On Thursday, September 1 D.A. Robert Johnson announced driver Ophadell Williams had been indicted on by a Bronx Grand Jury on 15 counts of second degree manslaughter, 15 counts of criminally negligent homicide, 16 counts of assault for injuries to 15 other passengers who did not perish, and other charges.

Williams, who lives in Brooklyn, pled not guilty. His bail was set at $250,000 by a State Supreme Court judge.

Prosecutors allege that he did not get sufficient rest and was driving recklessly prior to the crash, which took place early on Saturday, March 12. He was transporting about 30 people back to New York City from Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut for the company World Wide Travel.

A report by the state’s inspector general alleges that Williams already had three suspensions to a previous driver’s license, which had been obtained under an alias. Williams was also charged with a third-degree count of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

Williams and his attorney have claimed the crash was caused by having been hit by a truck.

Most of the bus’ passengers were asleep when Williams lost control of the bus. It slid onto its side and skidded for about 500 feet before slamming into a metal pole, which sheared off much of its roof. A report by the National Transportation Safety Board said the bus had been going as fast as 78 miles per hour during the trip.

Victims, many of whom were Chinese and did not speak English, were taken to Bronx trauma centers. The bus’ final destination was supposed to be Chinatown in Manhattan.

Williams, 40, has prior convictions for manslaughter and grand larceny.

He faces up to 15 years in prison for each manslaughter charge.

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