4 Killed, 54 Injured After Tour Bus Flips On Its Way To NYC's ChinatownBy 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.

Sky Express ticket office in Chinatown - New York, NY - May 31 2011 (credit: Peter Haskell / WCBS 880)

Sky Express ticket office in Chinatown - New York, NY - May 31 2011 (credit: Peter Haskell / WCBS 880)

“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.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell With Reaction From Chinatown

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.

1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reports: Passengers Not Worried About Riding Tour Buses

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.

What do you think can be done to prevent these crashes? Let us know below in our comments section or join the discussion on our Facebook page

(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 (21)
  1. Ann says:

    Drivers can only drive 10 hours and/or be on duty for 15 hours. Whichever one is reached first then necessitates a required consecutive 8hrs off duty before being able to work again. What can be done to protect the public? Shut down discount bus companies. This company should have been shut down a long time ago. In just 2 years they had an outrageous number of serious citations. Also, the public needs to use some common sense. They sold seats from Charlotte, NC to New York, NY for $30 a seat. That’s only making $1650 one way at FULL capacity. It costs the company about $550 in fuel to make the one way trip plus the driver pay for two drivers (legally this trip requires two since it exceeds the 10 hr drive time). That leaves very little profit. When you factor in how expensive buses are and how much insurance costs there is no way they are running without cutting corners. So, next time you think you are getting a great deal do the math first, check out the companies safety record (it’s public at http://www.safersys.org) and weigh the risks.

  2. Rob says:

    This is such a shame. Sky Express should be should down and heavily penalized for this. The first time I rode via Sky Express it took three buses for me to reach NY from Raleigh, NC. We awoke to an engine fire on the first bus and had to wait about two hours at 2AM on I-85 for the next bus to arrive. The second bus suffered overheating problems that caused the driver to ride on the breakdown lane of I-95 at ~25MPH in between stops where the driver had to fill the radiator with water. Luckily a THIRD bus met us in Fredericksburg to take us the rest of the way to NY. Like others have said, saving a few dollars isn’t worth risking your life or at the least the hassle of all the potential issues that plague this company.

  3. Clarissa says:

    Are the buses still on the road or are they giving refunds?

    1. Random says:

      refunds??? ha, ok my friend…

  4. RichieT says:

    They should fall under the exact same Federal laws as commercial truck, and bus drivers There’s a mandatory rest period with a minimum length of time. A maxim length of time they can continuously drive… A limit on how many hours a week they can work,.

    1. American Gigolo says:

      Shut down the Casinos!! They just attract lowlifes to the surrounding areas. Drugs, Prostitution, money laundering, racketeering, etc.

  5. BF says:

    The only way our elected officials will create stiffer penalties for the owners of these companies is if we promise to vote for them next election. Otherwise they could care less.

  6. Primetime Editorials says:

    this is so darn sad
    people are so money hungry they keep working and working themselves to death

  7. General says:

    The driver and the bus company need to be charged. The driver was scheduled to work this shift, when did his last shift end. Once you charge the heads of these companies with crimes and stop giving them just fines. Make them suffer the same charges as the driver.

  8. Richard says:

    Maybe the driver had poor sleep. I use a Vitalsleep FDA cleared stop snoring mouthpiece from http://www.vitalsleep.com

  9. pay wahun says:

    Some of these Chinese drivers have no regard for regulations with regards to safety. I have recorded videos on most of them using cell phones throughout a journey from NYC to Philadelphia and Washington DC. This is a regular attitude and they never get good rest driving.

    1. no discrimination says:

      What do you mean by “Some of these Chinese….”? Do you think everyone in the US have regard for regulations? Some of you go to jail as young as teenager. If you think the driver violate the law when talking and driving, please pick up your phone and dial 911. Have police cite the driver at the moment when he used his cell. Federal just need to enforce the current law, cause there are laws on how many hours a driver behind the wheel, and how many hours of rest needed. There is a log book in these commercial vehicles.

      1. Get Schooled! says:

        If you are going to complain about someone’s OPINION then at least do it with proper grammar. You make yourself sound incompetent. If you are going to use English then at least do it right.

  10. yazdi chichgar says:

    Try the company owners for manslaughter -that should stop it.

    1. Alex says:

      I was thinking the same thing too.

  11. Sal says:

    What / how do these drivers get paid? By the hour? And are there restrictions on how many hours they can work in a 24 hour period?

  12. MR KNOW IT ALL says:


  13. northoftheborder says:

    I was in one accident w/ Fung Wah coming from MA to NYC via I-84 and I-95 several years ago. The driver was speeding and didn’t see the traffic ahead so he rearended a car and we got into an accident. Six out of 20 or so passengers were taken to area hospitals in the Hartford area. Fortunately, I was sitting in the back of the small bus shuttle and wasn’t injured. I have not ridden on the Chinatown Express buses since. It’s one thing to save money but another to potentially endanger your life. These bus companies should be shut down.

  14. So Sad says:

    i know a number of people in New York, Boston and Virginia who regularly ride these buses and they all know that they aren’t safe but they ride them anyway because they cost so little…i guess saving a few dollars is more important to them than safety. Maybe after reading a few of these tragic stories they’ll reconsider.

  15. Juan D. Jones says:

    I was telling the NY troopers and I called Chuck Schummer’s office bout staying on top of these companies. They told me to write a letter now see what happens!!!
    Jay Jones

  16. Nature says:

    Sky needs to reg. with DOT just like Greyhound and the other bus companies. Why must people continue to lose lives over a dollar.

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