News

NY State Police: Trucker Didn’t Brake In Fiery Waterloo Crash

Workers evaluate the scene where a tractor-trailer crashed into a tour bus carrying about 50 people on the New York State Thruway in Waterloo, N.Y., Friday, July 22, 2011. (credit: David Duprey/AP)

Workers evaluate the scene where a tractor-trailer crashed into a tour bus carrying about 50 people on the New York State Thruway in Waterloo, N.Y., Friday, July 22, 2011. (credit: David Duprey/AP)

ROCHESTER, NY (CBSNewYork/AP) – An investigation by state police has found that the driver of a tractor-trailer involved in a fiery crash with a New York City-bound bus had ample time to stop.

The Farr’s Coach Lines bus was pulling back onto the highway when it was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer on Interstate 90 near Waterloo back in July. Both vehicles burst into flames.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, 59-year-old Timothy Hume, died in the crash. The tour bus was carrying 52 people and nearly all of the passengers suffered injuries, two of them seriously.

Hume could have fallen asleep at the wheel or been distracted when he plowed into the bus, said state police Investigator James Hunt.

While the bus had its emergency flashers on, it was likely traveling at no more than 25 miles an hour, Hunt said. The driver was struggling to shift out of a low gear because of a transmission problem, he said.

A truck driver who witnessed the crash said he moved into the passing lane when he saw the bus pulling out “well over a quarter of a mile — ahead of him,” Hunt said.

The witness said Hume then overtook him in the driving lane and “continued on and appeared to not see the bus,” the investigator said. “The witness thought that he had either fallen asleep at the wheel or was incapacitated in some way.”

“There was no evidence of pre-impact braking,” Hunt said.

The driver of the bus, Rene Bisson from Ontario, was ticketed because police said his license had been suspended in New York state. Police said he has a valid license in Canada, but his New York license was suspended over two earlier speeding tickets, one in 2003 and one in 2006.

 

Police said Bisson, 52, neglected to file paperwork to get his license reinstated after paying the speeding fines.

Dan Ronan, a spokesman for the American Bus Association said the company had a “satisfactory” rating, the top of three grades, in its latest federal safety inspection in 2007.

There have been a spate of tour bus crashes in the New York City area recently, prompting calls for new legislation regulating them.

Among some of the crashes, 15 people were killed in the Bronx in March when a tour bus headed to Chinatown from a casino in Connecticut overturned and slammed into a poll, peeling off its roof.

Four people were killed in May when a Sky Express operated bus returning to Chinatown from North Carolina swerved off the road and overturned on I-95 in Virginia.

The driver of that bus, 37-year-old Kin Yiu Cheung, is charged with four felony counts of involuntary manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty.

Then in June, police said a bus carrying tourists headed to Flushing, Queens, rear-ended a flatbed tractor-trailer on the Pennsylvania Turnpike killing the bus driver and injuring nearly two dozen passengers.

New York Trailways bus bound for New York City was involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer near Exit 15A on the New York State Thruway. Eight people were injured.

 

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