NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Authorities said the casino bus that careened out of control outside New York City, sending 24 people to the hospital with minor injuries, was apparently speeding.
First responders arrived at the scene of a crash Wednesday morning to find the vehicle skidding along the guardrail of the New England Thruway in New Rochelle with nobody behind the wheel, officials said.
The accident happened around 6:20 a.m. on the southbound side of I-95 near the New Rochelle tolls. The bus was on its way from Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut to Flushing, Queens, 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reported.
1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports
All 23 passengers and the driver were taken to local hospitals. Officials said the driver sustained the most serious injuries. New York State police Sgt. John Maasz says it appears the driver was going too fast for the wet conditions early Wednesday.
Police and witnesses said the bus, operated by Star Tag Inc., slammed into the left cement guardrail and cut over three lanes before striking and skidding along the right side guardrail.
The bus company has received four citations for unsafe driving in the last two years and every recorded inspection resulted in vehicle maintenance violations.
Most recently, in May, authorities caught one of its motor coaches going at least 15 miles per hour over the speed limit, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Deputy Fire Chief Robert Benz said the bus was still in gear and moving when first responders arrived on the scene. They managed to jump into the bus and stop it.
The driver was found on the ground about 300 yards away from where the bus had stopped. Passengers said the driver tried to save his own skin and jumped out of the bus as it was careening across the highway, 1010 WINS’ Sandberg reported.
“They were muttering that he left the bus early,” Benz said. “I don’t know if he got ejected or if he just left because he thought the bus was out of control.”
“If in fact he did jump out of the bus, there is a possibility there could be a reckless endangerment charge. It all has to be thoroughly investigated,” said State Police Capt. Evelyn Mallard.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, but so far, no charges have been filed.
The accident happened about two miles south of the site of the March 2011 crash that killed 15 people on a bus bound for Chinatown.
At that time, about 30,000 Chinese New Yorkers were boarding discount buses traveling from Chinatown to casinos each week.
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