NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Passengers and witnesses to the horrific crash Saturday that sheared the top off a bus and killed 14 people told investigators that the driver’s account of getting clipped by a tractor-trailer didn’t match up to what they felt and saw.

Driver Ophadell Williams had told police that his World Wide Tours bus was hit just as it crossed the New York City line early Saturday on a trip from the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut.

PREVIOUS STORY: Horrific Bus Crash Kills 14 On Bronx-Westchester Border

Passengers, however, said Williams had already swerved at times to the right for no reason before the accident, a law-enforcement official said Sunday. The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the probe and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The National Transportation Safety Board has interviewed two passengers from the bus, but they have not yet spoken to the bus driver or the driver of the truck, Vice Chairman Christopher Hart said at a news conference late Sunday.

LISTEN: Officials are still trying to determine whether a tractor trailer had any impact on the bus crash. 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reports

The NTSB will analyze three devices: a camera mounted in the bus facing the passengers; an engine control module, which may tell how fast the bus was going; and a GPS tracking device from the tractor-trailer, said Hart.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Kathleen Maloney reports on the investigation

In addition, investigators will also talk to the bus company to see what kind of fatigue management the company has in place and look into the casino’s records to see whether the driver checked into a room there.

The bus was returning to Chinatown after a quick overnight trip to the casino. The official said that passengers said they didn’t feel anything hit them and that other motorists on Interstate 95 said they didn’t see the bus get hit. The official said police spoke to the tractor-trailer driver, who said he was following the bus.

Williams remained hospitalized in serious condition Sunday and has not commented publicly. His family could not be reached.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reports on the inspections to the bus and other vehicles possibly linked to the crash

As many as 20 passengers were treated at hospitals following the accident. Nine, including the driver, remained hospitalized Sunday, according to spokesmen for St. Barnabas Hospital and Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx. Most were in critical condition.

Officials at Jacobi were still trying to identify one passenger, an Asian man in his 50s, said spokeswoman Barbara DeIorio.

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“He’s very injured, he’s not able to communicate yet,” she said, adding that the man was in the surgical intensive care unit.

The 14 victims — eight men and six women — all died of blunt force trauma, said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner’s office. She said the office was working with family members to identify them.

Some of the 31 passengers were still asleep when the bus crashed at 5:35 a.m. Saturday. The bus scraped along the guardrail for 300 feet, toppled and crashed into the support pole for a highway sign indicating the exit for the Hutchinson Parkway. The pole knifed through the bus front to back along the window line, peeling the roof off all the way to the back tires.

The bus was one of scores that travel daily between Chinatown, in Manhattan, and the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos in southeastern Connecticut.

Mohegan Sun, in Uncasville, Conn., has estimated a fifth of its business comes from Asian spending and caters to Chinese-American gamblers. Its website has a Chinese-language section offering gaming and bus promotions.

The trips between Chinatown and regional casinos are popular, said Eddie Chiu, who runs the Lin Sing Association, a community outreach group.

He said in the past three years, there have been a handful of serious accidents involving discount buses taking people from New York’s Chinese community to casinos.

“The drivers tell me that they’re often very tired,” he said, adding that salaries are low and drivers work long hours.

The accident tossed passengers all around the bus, with most people hurled to the front of the bus on impact, authorities said.

Many of the passengers on the bus were Chinatown residents. They ranged in age from 20 to 50, officials said.

Chinatown community organizations offered to help victims’ families cope with their loss.

Oanfa Quan, who runs a company that provides wigs and medical prostheses, said she was working with the Lin Sing Association to provide wigs in case some of the victims need them for burial.

“Usually the family wants it for their own peace of mind,” she said. “Even if the casket is closed, they still want to know that their loved one looks the way they were prior to the accident.”

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (47)
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  2. MOST OF US says:

    i’m in FL and just heard of this story and I genuinely feel a deep sense of loss for the people on the bus. I then feel it for their families. I really don’t care about color. Why should you? Compare it to other drastic situations. Lets say I got a disease from a blood transfusion. Would you say it was because the doctor/nurse was black or white? It’s trivial in the big scheme of things. The driver can be green for all I care. People died! Tragically. Death normally is, but come on people. If you die in a situation remotely close to this, do you want us arguing about the race of the person accused or discussing your life? I’d want people remembering me, because I lost in this… Let’s just pray and think of those who are gone and their families.

  3. evie says:

    This is such a tragedy and so many of the comments are virulently racist. Plenty of drivers have criminal records – drivers of all ethnic backgrounds. The bus company was negligent in not doing an accurate background check. That has nothing to do with the race of the driver. The incompetent pilot who crashed in Buffalo was white and so is Captain Sullenberger. No generalizations about whites here. One was superhumanly competent, and the other should not have been flying. The man at the helm of the Staten Island ferry when it crashed was white; the woman who drove the wrong way on the Taconic was white; my neighbor who drove drunk and killed a woman was white. I don’t believe any of that entitles me to make a judgment about white drivers (and I myself am white). What is upsetting is that the racists use any event, even a horrific tragedy like this bus crash, to draw their hideous conclusions and justify their hatred.

  4. James M. says:

    As a business owner who HAD black employees – Yes, I totally agree that blacks in any position of responsibility eventually has a disastrous outcome. This bus driver and the accident is a vivid reality check. The biggest example of black incompetence is in the White House !

    1. Bob says:

      Ditto to that! Absolutely! Don’t forget on voting day..REMEMBER!

  5. SICK says:


  6. Gary Coleman says:

    They should check Ophadell William’s cell phone records to make no texting, internet surfing or calls were occurring during the time of the crash. By the way, Ophadell Williams is African American for all those wondering. You draw your own conclusions !

    1. Bill says:

      The criminal record says it all. No other info needed.

  7. Ted Lewandowski says:

    Put in another way – it would be like if you were sent to China to drive a commercial vehicle – while still a commercial license holder – you can drive a bus or a truck but you would HAVE NO IDEA OF THE DRIVING STYLE OR CULTURE.

    1. Lewandowski is Stupid says:

      did you really read the article? The bus’s driver, Ophadell Williams, is not an Asian. So please keep your hole shut before your ignorant comment.

    2. Helen says:

      I agree. Ted LEwandowski is stupid. If you look at the accidents and ethnicity, you will see that car accidents happen disporportionally in whites. do I say that WHITES CANNOT DRIVE? Also, why deosnt’ the media say that Ophdel Wiilliams is black and that he is lying about the tractor trailer hitting him? Instead, they broadcasted his story so that williams can put the blame on someone else. very typical of inner city blacks to blame someone else. BTW, this is not the first time that blacks blame someone else for his mistake to get a lighter sentence. Why does the media give the criminal the benefit of the doubt without first checking out his story? I hate to bring race into this but since Ted brought it up, I might as clarify and add some truth to this.

      1. Bill says:

        Absolutely! And they keep crying about the statistics, that the majority of crimes committed is by blacks. Facts don’t lie!

  8. Ted Lewandowski says:

    I should add that my comment below comes from driving tour buses for nearly a million miles – so it is probably the most experienced feedback – NOT JUST AN IDLE OPINION of readers.

    1. Moe says:

      The worst drivers are from NJ and Long Island. Nothing but backwater hillbillies with no education. I’ve been driving for over 30 years all over the tri-state area and poor white trash from those areas are worse than any other.

      1. effnydrivers says:

        Lol, Moe, NJ drivers are backwater hillibillies? You been driving all over the tri-state for 30 years and you’re calling NJ’ians backwater hillibillies? Where the eff in NJ are you driving? Obviously it’s not North Jersey..

        Funny because everytime I’m driving on the GSP there’s always some dumba$$ driver going 55 mph in the left lane and refuses to move over 9 out 10 times it’s some NY driver. Whats the matter idiots, you guys don’t know how to get the eff over when someone is flashing the lights….

        The worse drivers are women who all of sudden feel an over-whelming sense of power and want to ride your a$$ going 80 mph and then give you the finger as you stare them down. Listen up biythces, you can and will get pulled out of the car one day and get your face pounded in acting like that. keep your fingers in your lap and don’t challenge grown men when you’re driving like a$$holes

  9. victor says:

    it`s evident that this bus driver was at fault, since he killed people and injured a lot,he should be charged with murder and attempted murder….don`t give this driver a chance to drive again,,,his name sounds like he is Black. probably was on drugs while driving also.

  10. Ted Lewandowski says:

    Any Asian driver I don’t trust because they don’t know how to drive – and I don’t mean that in any disrespect. I have driven tour buses for nearly a million miles without a single incident – but these Asian guys from NYC or Boston are sketchy in the sense you don’t know how long they have lived here or driven on our roads.

    I just drove up from Charlotte, NC to Providence today as well – and if I did not move out of the way of one pick-up truck towing a trailer he would have taken me off the road – but it was so seemless that the driver of the pickup was shocked himself – kinda like anticipating his transgression which is what these Asian drivers have no ability to do.

    1. Tom says:

      Driver Ophadell Williams – yup, sounds like an Asian driver to me.

      Perhaps paying attention to the article would be helpful before commenting. Bad drivers cross all racial boundaries.

      1. arn says:

        This driver wasn’t Asian, but Chinese surely can’t drive. I’m not a racist, but this has been my experience in 27 years of driving in the NY area.

  11. Norah Grady says:

    How awful this tragedy was. Someone needs to be held accountable for all of the lives lost is such a senseless accident. Absolutely ridiculous for victims and their families to have to go through this. Makes me sick.

  12. NY2Virginia2001 says:

    There are GOVERNORS on these Large Buses that can be “set” so as to Limit the speed they can go. Many companies set their maximum speed at 67MPH if the speed limit in the area allows traffic to move at 65. Generally, a few miles per hour over the speed limit.
    In the case of a company whose record shows accidents involving injuries in the past few years, you would THINK their safety department managers would be very cautious of allowing Speed to be controlled by the driver.
    This is an awful tragedy, and as a professional Bus Driver, I have to say it could have been avoided. It always comes back to the driver.
    The company who signs contracts with casinos, or Government Agencys for that matter, or the public in general has one thing in mind. PROFITS. BOTTOM LINE…MONEY.
    There are Washington DC Commuter Bus drivers being paid as little as $9.00 an hour. What type of driver would be so desparate to work a 16 hour day, a split shift, 4 hours in the AM and 4 hours in the PM and and 8 hour unpaid break in between with no place on the bus to wash your hands or brush your teeth?
    The bottom of the barrel…that’s who.
    I can’t say that this guy was nodding out, but It wouldn’t suprise me if he just fell asleep at the wheel. In drivers terms, ” you can’t call dispatch and tell them YOU’RE TOO TIRED to come home” when you’re on a trip. Who do you think they are going to get? Someone from NYC to drive up to take over your job? It doesn’t happen that way. They aren’t going to inconvience the paying customers to wait for a replacement driver. There are no stand by drivers in the office waiting to get a call.
    I have called in to work after a restless nights sleep or in one case, having fast food for dinner that exploded my digestive system.
    What do you get? SUSPENSION. NO WORK FOR TWO DAYS to teach you a lesson. NO PAY from an already low paying job.
    That’s what you get when you don’t push on through regardless of your physical or mental alertness and abilities.
    It’s a shame, but it comes down to the driver. DRIVE OR LOSE YOUR JOB.

    1. Mac says:

      You are so on point. I drove for 20 yrs and bus cos. would rather you drive over the hours you are permitted legally instead of paying a 2nd driver to operate the samme bus (this applies to longer trips). Even short runs, either work or be fired if you got now union.

  13. Joe T. says:

    What an ignorant stupid question from Simon Goldfarb. What difference does it make what color someone is? Idiot.

    1. Joe T. says:

      Now Mr. Goldfarb has removed his question, which was “Was the driver black as the Ace of Spades or what?”. Mr. Goldfarb is a typical “racial stereotyper” that this world has too many of. Now, instead of apologizing, Simon Goldfarb cowardly removes his ignorant post. What a genuine person.

      1. jd says:

        It’s more than likely the internet gods removed it for him.

      2. Michael H. says:

        There is no way for a user to remove a post. Somebody reported the racist and CBS took the offending comment down.

      3. Bill says:

        Last time I looked, ace of spades means BLACK. What else does it mean?

    2. Marie says:

      There is a lot of difference.. mentally.. intellectually.. a world of difference. Why are you calling someone an idiot? Or does it take one to know one? Any person can ask a question. Who are you to determine what is right or wrong? Everyone has an opinion.

  14. Tony G says:

    some times, when I did not have breakfast or miss my lunch.

    I would be munching on candy bar. The worst thing is I am trying to open my candy bar wrapper while driving.

    The other times, I am trying to grasp my water bottle and take the cap off with one hand.

    Yeah, some drivers do drive with one hand.

    Stay safe

  15. tom says:

    Whats upsetting is when you call 911 three times to report people weaving in and out of lanes at 80 plus MPH and there is not one patrol car that you see or anywehre within a 25 mile radius.

    it’s not the police fault but idiots on the road and the lack of funding for our great police and troppers who do not get enough support from the poltiicians.

    You want to blame someone? Blame the idiot politicians who don’t care about anyone except themselves.

  16. bobby says:

    Everybody drives 70 or better on 95 .Its a joke when you see the 55 mph speed limit .I F YOU drive the speed limit you get cut off and are cursed at and you are in harms way .There are not enough troopers or highway patrol officers on the road and the DRIVERS KNOW IT ….With era of congestion on the roads and a disrespecting non considerate video game metality driver today the roads on 95 will become a death highway .Well its pretty much that already .Between the southern stae pkwy in Long Island and 95 thru CT I dont know which roads are the worst they are both really bad ….Hire more trooper and cops to patrol and enforce the speed limit and cell phone use on the roads ,Keep our children and loved ones safe please ….

    1. Arn says:

      And PLEASE, if you’re going to drive slower than traffic, STAY ON THE RIGHT LANE! That saves a lot of aggravation and may save lives too.

  17. national motorists assoc says:

    Exceeding a speed limit which was not based on any safety measurements will not cause a bus to flip on its side. However, driving early in the morning after a night of gambling might make you sleepy….

  18. wellinsured says:

    I called it – the driver is a LIAR – I have be a victim of their bad driving cutting me off and having the nerve to give me the finger as I recall it I said it at the time “that driver is putting them passengers in danger” and couldn’t he;p but think some day there will be a bad accident and here a few months later this!

    1. virgi says:

      To wellinsured:

      Do you get a prize for being right. The people who were killed or injured were not playing a game.

      1. wellinsured says:

        Virgi No but you and both drivers can get the finger the first driver gave me – to bellieve this driver was a joke like you – point was to point out how reckless thes bus driver can be it was visible I had kids in my car while he drove careless and put his passangers in danger as did this lying ass driver.

        No give me my prize and sit down and StFU

    2. evie says:

      Very classy! You sound like you need some serious anger management (and yes, I know you want to give me the finger as well). What a role model for your kids!!

  19. Im Just Saying says:

    This accident occur due to speed and driver being tired. Both unexcusable factors. As to the people who are judging trucks and busses, how many times have we cut off these large vehicle because we feel they just in our way? Have we looked at our speed when we are running late. Take a look at the car to your left and to right, they maybe doing something other then driving. What are you doing will driving? Take note of yourself next time you’re on the road. We are always quick to blame someone else. Cars are ussually the major cause of an accident involving a large vehicle. No im not a bus driver or truck driver but know enough that I have to drive defensively while driving around these large vehicle. I don’t know about anyone else I still need to get to work on a bus and mostly all of my needs at a hospital, supermarket, mall etc got there on truck.

  20. Cecelia says:

    I think speeding was the big factor in this horrific accident. Both buses and trailers go well over 60mph on the thruway and not only that they ride your tail forcing you to get out of the way. Just last night in the middle lane a tour bus pasted me in the right lane going over 65mph. I flashed my high beams in hopes to get his attention on the high speed he was going. Maybe this is the big wake up call for all those bus and trailer drivers who speed and put peoples life in danger.

    1. ben says:

      The face is it is a 55mph zone, u will see 19/20 cars would over that speed limit, i dunno if those all considered as speeding too.

      1. ppm says:

        the speed limit for trucks and buses is 50 miles per hour and it is clearly posted

    2. ppm says:

      be careful when flashing your lights at a bus or truck..when you flash your lights it lets them know that it is clear for them to change lanes if they want

  21. mak says:

    Aaron & Norm, I heard on a news report that the reason these particular poles are not ‘break aways’ is because they are holding up those exit signs. Those signs and the corresponding structures crashing down in the event of an accident would kill people too. (I cut and pasted this from the previous thread that had the same question.)

  22. Norman says:

    Aaron, that is a good point, and that pole does not look small enough to give much, so that’s a very good question. But keep in mind that the bus struck the poles across the windshield while it was already on it’s side and the windshield and the windows, and support pieces that go around the windows are probably not structurally strong enough to push a pole over. The pole struck the bus and its weakest points. If the bus had struck the pole in the engine area, or if it was upright, the pole would probably have given way, at least somewhat. Horrible tragedy. My heart goes out to the people involved and their families, and to the first responders who had to deal with the aftermath. It takes special people to do that kind of thing and they don’t get enough credit for what they do..

  23. Aaron Maline says:

    I thought all highway signposts were designed to break away immediately on impact. If the post had done so as it should, so much tragedy could have been averted. Another thing. With a safety record like that, this company should not be allowed to operate any more.
    Aaron, Miami, Florida

    1. Gennaro says:

      It would not break away if the pole goes through glass, even if it was designed to sreak away. It would have to be a blunt force of weight to acheive this.

    2. beckw says:

      It was not a sign post. It was a sign posted on a huge metal bracket. Look at the picture again. In fact, there was TWO poles, not one.

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