Friday, April 15, 2011
NY: Casino Bus Was Speeding Just Before Crash, Investigators Say
The casino bus that crashed in the Bronx last month, killing 15 passengers, was traveling as fast it could go — 78 miles an hour — less than a minute before it flipped onto its right side and slammed into a signpost, federal investigators reported on Friday.
The National Transportation Safety Board said for the first time that the bus had been exceeding the speed limit on Interstate 95 just 45 seconds before it veered off the highway, according to a preliminary report by the board about the March 12 crash.
The State Police have also been studying the wreckage and interviewing witnesses to help the Bronx district attorney decide whether to file criminal charges against the driver of the bus.
The driver, Ophadell Williams, of Brooklyn, told investigators that a passing tractor-trailer swerved, forcing him to veer off the road. A truck driver contacted the police later that day to say he had seen the crash. But the report said investigators found no evidence of any contact between his truck and the bus and on March 22 the truck driver was cleared of any responsibility.
The safety board’s report did not reach a conclusion about the cause of the crash, which it is still investigating. In the 90 seconds before the crash, the bus traveled at a range of speeds, the report said, but was going 78 miles an hour within 45 seconds of the crash. The bus’s speed decreased just before the crash, it said.
The posted speed limit on that stretch of I-95, just south of the Westchester County line, is 55 miles an hour. The report indicated that the engine of the bus was limited to a top speed of 78