MTA

Dropped Thermos May Have Caused Deadly 2017 Bus Crash: NTSB

The Dahlia bus barreled through a red light in September 2017, killing three people, including its driver

What to Know

  • A deadly bus crash in Queens in 2017 could have been caused by a Thermos that got lodged between the brakes and accelerator pedals
  • The bus barreled through a red light in Sept. 2017, killing three people, including its driver
  • A review of video and audio from the bus's GPS found a "metal rattling noise" could be heard shortly before the crash

A bus crash that killed three people and injured 16 others in Queens in 2017 could have been caused by a Thermos that got lodged between the vehicle’s brake and accelerator pedals, officials say.

The Dahlia bus barreled through a red light on Northern Boulevard and smashed into an MTA bus at Main Street in September 2017, killing its 49-year-old driver, Raymond Mong, a 55-year-old MTA bus passenger, Gregoy Liljefors, and a 68-year-old pedestrian, Henry Wdowiak.

The National Transportation Safety Board on Thursday said it couldn’t rule out the possibility that a dropped thermos caused the crash by preventing Mong from hitting the brakes, though it noted the exact cause of the crash isn't clear. 

NTSB reviewed video and audio from a GPS device that was on the coach bus when it crashed and discovered a “metal rattling noise” could be heard shortly before the crash, when the coach bus was still traveling at 30 mph.

“Three seconds after the metal rattling sound, [Mong] utters a single-word remark as the motorcoach increases its speed,” NTSB said in a statement. “More audible metal rattling sounds are recorded from inside the cabin.”

Three seconds after Mong’s first remark, he “exclaims” again before swerving to avoid parked cars, NTSB said.

By the time the coach bus crashed, it was going 60 mph — twice the legal 30 mph speed limit, according to NTSB.

The GPS recording “indicates [Mong] was conscious and aware of the hazardous conditions preceding the crash but was unable to control the vehicle’s speed,” NTSB said. “NTSB investigators ruled out a deliberate intent by the driver to crash his vehicle.”

The bus’s brakes were working properly, but a metal Thermos bottle was found near the control pedals of the bus after the crash, NTSB noted.

“The Thermos could potentially explain the metal rattling heard on the audio recording,” NTSB said, noting that Mong’s wife confirmed he’d brought a Thermos with him that day.

After the deadly crash, Mong's driving record came under scrutiny. 

Mong was fired by the MTA after a 2015 hit-and-run DUI arrest, transit sources told News 4 after the crash. It wasn't clear at the time when Mong started working for Dahlia. 

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