Reporting Carol D'Auria
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – There was quick action Tuesday night from the federal government following another deadly tour bus crash, this one on I-95 in Virginia.
The bus company’s service was canceled indefinitely, reports CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.
North Carolina-based Sky Express Inc. was shut down nationwide, including in New York City’s Chinatown, the destination of the ill-fated bus involved in Tuesday’s crash.
The Department of Transportation issued an immediate out of service order. Travelers were suddenly left stranded.
“I sure am, and now I have to worry about how I get money back to pay for this trip back,” said Marvin Cruz of Greensboro, N.C., who added when asked if he had a way home, “None whatsoever right now.”
It was all part of the fallout from the horrific early morning crash on I-95 in Virginia. According to police, the bus left Greensboro, N.C. at 10:30 p.m. Monday night. It had seat belts for the driver but not for the passengers. Bound for Chinatown, the bus veered off the road, flipped over and then landed on its roof. Duffel bags, luggage and broken glass still littered the highway hours after the crash. Four adult women were killed and almost all of the 54 other passengers on board were injured.
“Everybody was pretty much sleeping, and all of the sudden you are flipping over, and you didn’t know what happened, so very scary,” a passenger said.
Ironically, the driver, 37-year-old Kin Yiu Cheung, suffered only minor injuries. He quickly arrested and charged with reckless driving. Fatigue was blamed as the cause of the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
Regular passengers said it’s common to have the same driver at the wheel, hours at a time, but also no problems.
“Fortunately, for the amount of times I have taken it, the driving has been fairly safe,” said David Ferris of Boston.
“They drive perfectly, and they stop at the rest stop for you, too,” added Pam Campbell of Flatbush, Brooklyn.
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The out of service order from the Department of Transportation followed an unsatisfactory safety rating for Sky Express Inc. stemming from the crash. However, lawmakers want more, demanding federal oversight for these unregulated private bus company tours.
“The time for action to reign in this industry is now — not tomorrow, not next week, not next month, now,” N.Y. Sen. Chuck Schumer said.
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SkyExpress Inc. buses have been involved in four crashes, with one injury or fatality — the motor carrier agency didn’t specify which — during the two-year period that ended May 20.
Its drivers have been cited for 17 unsafe-driving violations, including eight for speeding, since 2009. That gives it worse marks than nearly 63 percent of comparable transportation companies in the agency’s unsafe-driving category, which is separate from driver fatigue.
SkyExpress also ranked worse than 99.7 percent of similar companies in driver fitness, with 24 violations, 14 of which were for using drivers who lack English-language skills.
In a statement, Sky Express Inc. expressed condolences to the family of the victims, while defending its track record, saying this is the first serious accident involving one of its buses — ever.
The driver is jailed in Virginia on a $3,000 bond. The bus company said there are no previous accidents on his record.In March, 15 passengers were killed when a bus headed to Chinatown veered off I-95 in the Bronx and crashed into a pole, peeling off the roof.
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