NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Officials Tuesday called for stronger regulations of private bus companies following Monday’s deadly bus crash between a private charter bus and an MTA bus in Queens.
A day after the crash, the NYPD has stepped up patrols near the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Main Street as part of a speed enforcement, 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported.
Police said Raymond Mong, the 49-year-old driver of the Dahlia charter bus, was heading east on Northern Boulevard around 6:15 a.m. Monday when he crashed into the back of the MTA Q20 bus that was making a right turn from Main Street.
The impact of the collision then sent the tour bus into the front of a building.
Mong died in the crash along with 68-year-old Henry Wdowiak, who was walking on the street, and 55-year-old Gregory Liljefors, a passenger on the MTA bus. Sixteen others were hurt.
Wdowiak had chosen a new route to work Monday morning but instead, he ended up pinned under a bus and died at the scene. His family is heartbroken and still left with many questions.
“I’m speechless at this point,” his stepson said. “This shouldn’t happen. It makes me angry because of a mistake of whoever hired this person.”
Sources confirm Mong ran a red light, CBS2’s Reena Roy reported. Investigators were spotted examining a speedometer at the scene Monday and surveillance video from the scene shows how fast the charter bus appeared to be moving.
MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said Monday that speed appeared to be a factor.
“The buses spun around,” he said. “That requires an enormous amount of speed.”
MTA officials say Mong worked for the agency in the past but was fired in 2015 with cause. Sources say that Mong was arrested for alleged driving while intoxicated off-duty in New Haven, Connecticut.
It was unclear when he was hired as a driver for Dahlia.
Local leaders are now banding together to find out how and why he was hired for Dahlia and what can be done to prevent this from happening again in a congested area with more than 20 different private bus lines making their way through the intersection.
“Private bus companies must be held to high standards of safety and accountability while they put the lives of others in their hands,” City Councilman Peter Koo said.
“We need to consider more thorough vetting,” said Comptroller Scott Stringer. “Are there regulations in this industry that we can tighten to ensure safety and yesterday showed these are truly life and death issues.”
“Before they get a permit or renew their permits, they have to have a guarantee that all their drivers they have a clear record,” said City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez.
In the meantime, federal and state inspectors were together on the scene at Dahlia bus company depot on Tuesday.
“Throughout the next few days, our investigators will work on scene to thoroughly document the site and gather factual information,” NTSB Investigator In Charge, Robert Accetta said, “Our mission is to understand not just what happened, but why it happened, and to recommend changes to prevent them from happening again.”
A federal DOT spokesperson said the company was last audited two years ago, and passed inspection to operate. Federal law requires background checks for any new hires at private bus companies, and those documents must be kept on file.
There will be a City Council hearing to address these issues next month.