NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police said William Dalambert was high when he was driving a tour bus that slammed into another bus in Times Square and took down a light pole earlier this week.
But Dalambert has claimed he is innocent, and toxicology reports back him up. CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown spoke to him exclusively on Thursday.
Dalambert insisted he was not on any type of drugs or medication when the Gray Line double-decker tour bus he was driving crashed into a parked double-decker CitySights around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, jumping the curb and causing a lamp post and traffic signal to crash onto a crowd of people.
The crash happened near the TKTS discount Broadway ticket booth at 47th Street and Seventh Avenue, which was packed with people at the time.
“They take the tests, they take the blood tests, they take the urine tests and everything — and I’m clean,” Dalambert said.
In his first television interview, the 58-year-old father of six from Irvington, New Jersey, said he passed a Breathalyzer test at the scene.
But investigators said Dalambert failed a field sobriety test, which he said included walking a straight line and touching his finger to his nose. Dalambert said that did not mean he was under the influence of anything.
“When you got an accident, you don’t feel the same way you’re supposed to feel, because you’re afraid; you’re shocked,” Dalambert said.
Dalambert was charged with driving while ability impaired. He was handcuffed, booked, and spent the night in a jail cell.
But afterward, he was suddenly released when initial tests showed there were no drugs or alcohol in his system.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office said late Wednesday said that it was deferring criminal charges pending the results of a full toxicology report.
“We are taking this matter seriously and prosecutors in the Office’s Vehicular Crimes Unit are conducting a thorough investigation,” the DA’s office said in a statement.
Dalambert said he is simply relieved.
“I said: ‘Thank you, God. God protect me. I don’t die and I don’t kill nobody,’” he said.
In a statement, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission said Dalambert is a New Jersey licensed commercial driver with no active points on his record.
The MVC said he has “20 administrative suspensions dating back to June, 1993 that began with problems with his vehicle insurance.”
“His most recent violations are for driving while using a cell phone from a July 23, 2013 incident in East Orange and driving without a license/registration/insurance in Irvington on December 1, 2013,” the MVC said in the statement.
But Dalambert’s license was valid as of Tuesday when the accident happened.
Dalambert said the brakes failed Tuesday, and that was what sent his bus careening onto the sidewalk.
Tests showed the brakes were working at the time of the crash, CBS 2 reported earlier.
The parent company for both buses involved pointed to its safety record.
“Our most recent inspection from DOT… resulted in a score of 100 out of 100 and highlights… a commitment to sound maintenance standards,” said the statement from Twin America.
At the scene Thursday afternoon, the light pole is working again and was sitting on a big concrete block.
Dalambert, meantime, remained suspended from his job. When asked if he thought he would be able to keep his job, Dalambert said, “I don’t know.”
A spokesman for Twin America said the company has launched its own internal investigation.
The driver of the other bus is not facing any charges.
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