Fatal Bus Accident Under Federal Investigation

On Saturday, March 12, 2011, 14 passengers on a tour bus returning to Chinatown from the Mohegan Sun Casino were killed when the driver lost control of the bus, it rolled onto its side, and struck a sign stanchion on southbound 1-95 near the Bronx border. The fatal accident is now being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) , who are interviewing the owners of World Wide Travel of Greater New York, and examining the crash site for physical clues to explain the horrific accident.

What is known is that on March 12th, thirty one passengers on the bus were returning from a day trip to the Mohegan Sun Casino. The driver of the bus, Ophadel E. Williams, (who suffered non life threatening injuries in the accident including a fractured hip), has informed investigators that he was attempting to avoid a tractor trailer which swerved into his lane and then lost control of the bus. Apparently, the bus tipped onto its right side, slid down the shoulder of the highway (the bus is alleged to have slid 480 feet from first contact with the guardrail until stopping), and then hit a sign stanchion which tore through the middle of the bus, leading to the massive injuries and fatalities. It has also been reported that World Wide Travel has been cited in the past for driver fatigue. Police investigators are working to retrace the driver’s actions for 72 hours before the crash. It has been reported that witnesses observed the bus moving at an excessive rate of speed.

In cases such as this, there are several pieces of evidence which will be instrumental in determining the true cause of the accident. These include:

Debris from the accident scene;
Tire marks, skid marks and other roadway evidence;
Damage to the vehicles involved;
GPS tracking information, which could indicate the route and speed of the tractor-trailer;
Statements from the drivers and occupants of the bus;
A review of the engine control module in the bus, which might assist the police in determining the speed of the bus at the time of the accident;
Driver’s logs which both the bus driver and truck driver and required to maintain by federal regulation;

Maintenance records for both vehicles.

There will undoubtedly be several lawsuits for wrongful death, and for the non-fatally injured passengers, for pain and suffering, medical and hospital expenses, lost earnings, loss of enjoyment of life, and long term care. I would assume that World Wide Travel would carry significant liability insurance coverage, but whether that coverage will be sufficient to compensate all of the victims of this tragic accident is a big question. If the evidence substantiates that the tractor-trailer’s actions contributed to the accident, there will be additional insurance from the owners of the trucking company, but there may still be insufficient insurance to compensate all victims.

We will continue to report on this case in future installments as the investigation continues.

If you are injured in a car accident, truck accident, or through the malpractice of a doctor or hospital, contact the Westchester County Injury Lawyers online or toll free at 888-761-7633 for a free consultation to discuss your case with an experienced trial attorney. We will fight the insurance companies to obtain damages for your pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost earnings, and loss of enjoyment of life.