Driver in Fatal Bronx Crash Indicted on Criminal Charges: Source

Bus driver Ophadell Williams is expected to appear in Bronx criminal court

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The driver of the tour bus that smashed into a highway sign post on I-95 in the Bronx, killing 15 people and injuring several others in March, is scheduled to appear in a Bronx courtroom on Thursday to face criminal charges in the horrific crash.

     

    Horrific Bus Crash in the Bronx

    [NY] Horrific Bus Crash in the Bronx
    Emergency crews respond to the scene.

    According to a source familiar with the case, the bus driver, Ophadell Williams, has been indicted on several counts, including criminal negligent homicide and reckless endangerment.

    His defense attorney did not immediately return a call for comment.

     

    In April, Williams was questioned by state police and federal investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board at the Brooklyn headquarters of the bus company, World Wide Tours.

    The bus crashed on March 12 as it headed back from a Connecticut casino to Manhattan's Chinatown.

    Williams blew a .00 in a blood-alcohol test at the scene and voluntarily offered blood for a more precise blood alcohol test, officials said.

    Williams had a criminal record that includes an arrest for driving with a suspended license and possession of three police radio scanners, NBC New York first reported.

    In the follow-up to the crash, authorities examined what Williams did in the 72 hours prior to the early morning crash, and indicated the investigation could turn into a criminal matter.

    In April, the New York State inspector general said authorities would look into how Williams was able to obtain and keep a commercial driver's license, given his criminal and driving history, Gov. Cuomo said.

    NBC New York also learned last spring that in 2004, Williams applied for a security guard license but that request was denied because of his past "serious offense."

    An official briefed on the case said a background check showed his criminal past and it was determined Williams was an "unreasonable risk to property, safety and welfare." Records also show officials were concerned he had made a "false statement" on his application for the security guard license.

    Officials briefed on the case said Williams did not keep his driver's log up to date as he was required.

    According to sources, who had pieced together a timeline of what happened before the horrific crash,  Williams arrived at the Mohegan Sun Casino around 11 p.m. Friday night to drop off passengers. He then drove to another lot to take a nap until he was called at 3 a.m. to pick up the group for a trip back to New York.

    The bus is said to have departed the casino, bound for Manhattan's Chinatown, at 3:45 a.m.

    It crashed on I-95 in the Bronx shortly after 5:30 a.m., skidding into a highway sign post that entered through the front window and sliced the bus like a knife.

    One official familiar with the case has said investigators probed whether Williams fell asleep behind the wheel, or was somehow not paying attention.

    Passengers said the bus seemed to be drifting in and out of lanes, hitting the rumble strips, and state police said the bus may have been speeding.

    The driver's wife, Holly, told the Daily News in April that Williams "feels like he's at fault."

    "But I told him it's not his fault -- it's an accident. He feels upset that a lot of people died on his bus," she said.

    In addition to the fatalities, seven other passengers were hurt.