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Relatives Return To Scene Of Fatal Bus Crash For Ceremony

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Victim's family members participate in a Buddhist service at the location of a tour bus crash that left fifteen people dead, Saturday, March 19, 2011 in the Bronx. (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)

Victim’s family members participate in a Buddhist service at the location of a tour bus crash that left fifteen people dead, Saturday, March 19, 2011 in the Bronx. (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Nineteen family members of the victims of last week’s fatal bus crash in the Bronx returned the accident scene on Saturday morning to honor the lost and release their spirits in a Tzu Chi ceremony.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Kathleen Maloney reports on the Tzu Chi ceremony

The relatives gathered on I-95 near Exit 14 where last week a World Wide Tours bus overturned on the highway and was nearly sheared in half by a sign pole. Sixteen people died in the crash.

investigators at the scene of the crash Relatives Return To Scene Of Fatal Bus Crash For Ceremony

Investigators at the scene of the crash (credit: CBS 2)

City officials closed one lane for about an hour as families knelt, prayed and burned incense, money and letters to the victims. Three Buddhist monks also chanted, prayed and sprinkled water to purify the site.

Relatives also put flowers, food and personal items around the pole in the ceremony, which releases the spirits of the victims so they can go to a better place.

The bus had been returning to Chinatown from the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut. The driver, Ophadell Williams, told investigators that a tractor trailer clipped the bus at 5:35 a.m., causing the bus to turn on its side.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Sean Adams describes the ceremony

Authorities revealed this past week that Williams has a criminal record and his license has since been suspended.

Authorities are still asking for witnesses to the accident to come forward.

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