Verdict reached in Bronx bus crash - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Driver acquitted of manslaughter in bus crash case

Posted: Updated:
Ophadell Williams Ophadell Williams

Ophadell Williams, the casino bus driver charged in a deadly bus crash in the Bronx last year, was found not guilty on 15 counts of manslaughter.

He was found guilty on one count of operating a vehicle with a suspended license in the third degree.

Williams wept and covered his face with his hands as the verdict was read. On the count which he was found guilty, the judge sentenced him to 30 days in prison, which he has served. He also was ordered to pay a fee of $500.

Williams had pleaded not guilty in the March 12, 2011 crash.

He said a tractor-trailer cut him off and he lost control. The bus carrying gamblers coming from a Connecticut casino was sheared open like a sardine can when it struck a pole.

Prosecutors said Williams was so recklessly exhausted and sleep deprived, it was as if he was drunk. He faced up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The trial lasted more than eight weeks, with Superstorm Sandy causing a delay. Juror deliberated about a week, but not consecutively.

Jurors reached their verdict Thursday, but one had to leave.

The victims were mostly Chinese men and women over the age of 40 who were regulars at casinos. About half died. The others were injured. Survivors missing limbs testified in court, including Ren Xiang Yao who spoke of how he lost both arms when he raised them up instinctively when the bus crashed. He said he didn't see the crash -- though he remembers when the rescue crews arrived.

"I used all the energy I had left and said, `I'm here, I'm here, please come rescue me,' "he said. "By the time I woke up, I was already in the hospital."

Yao was hospitalized for nearly a month and had several operations.

Jurors also watched video from the scene of the accident and other wounded passengers who testified the bus was unsteady in the moments before it crashed.

Williams had been held in Rikers Island because his family couldn't post $250,000 bail.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in June that the accident was probably caused by driver fatigue, and a bus company that provided too little safety oversight. It stopped short of saying Williams had fallen asleep.

Williams worked for World Wide Tours of Greater New York. Federal regulators shut down the bus operator after the accident for safety violations. Williams had not turned in any driver's logs while working for the company as required by federal safety regulations, yet World Wide took no action, federal investigators said.

But the bus company won't face any criminal charges related to the crash, Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson has said.

New York state has stepped up inspections of tour buses since the crash. Dozens of buses have been taken out of service after police found problems with logbooks, licenses or equipment. But there have been several bus accidents since.

D.A. Johnson released this statement: 

"In cases in which there are serious issues of facts in dispute, trials are necessary. We strongly believe that the issues in this case were appropriate to put before a jury. We argued that Mr. Williams had twice received training warning of the dangers of driving without enough sleep and that he was aware of the necessary precautions to safeguard his passengers. We presented telephone and car rental records which documented the many hours, in the days leading up to the crash, that Mr. Williams was awake and active when he should have been getting sufficient rest. There was also forensic evidence which ruled out contact with another vehicle as a cause of the crash. In addition, information retrieved from the 'black box' indicated Mr. Williams never attempted to apply the brakes as the bus careened out of control. We believe that our case was compelling, nevertheless we accept the decision of the jury."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

  • Connecticut NewsConnecticut NewsMore>>

  • Free dental clinic to draw thousands in Hartford

    Free dental clinic to draw thousands in Hartford

    Thursday, April 24 2014 8:24 AM EDT2014-04-24 12:24:06 GMT
    More than 2,000 patients are expected to seek free dental work at an annual clinic in Connecticut.  The seventh annual Connecticut Mission of Mercy free dental clinic is scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
    More than 2,000 patients are expected to seek free dental work at an annual clinic in Connecticut.  The seventh annual Connecticut Mission of Mercy free dental clinic is scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
  • Connecticut man charged in Yale hoax threat

    Connecticut man charged in Yale hoax threat

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 3:33 PM EDT2014-04-23 19:33:11 GMT
    New Haven police say they have charged a Westbrook with making a hoax call in November to say an armed man was heading to shoot up Yale University.
    Police say they have charged a Connecticut man with making a call in November in which he falsely claimed an armed man was on his way to shoot up Yale University. New Haven police said Wednesday that 50-year-old Jeffrey Jones, of Westbrook, has been charged with falsely reporting an incident, threatening, reckless endangerment, misuse of the emergency 911 system and breach of peace.
  • New London running out of cash, mayor says

    New London mayor: city running out of cash

    New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio has asked the state for help because the city is running out of cash and won't be able to make its $1.7 million payroll this week.
    New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio has asked the state for help because the city is running out of cash and won't be able to make its $1.7 million payroll this week.
  • Bronx NewsBronx NewsMore>>

  • Boy dies in Bronx high rise plunge

    Boy dies in Bronx high rise plunge

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:46 AM EDT2014-04-24 10:46:34 GMT
    A 9-year-old boy plunged to his death out of a 30-story building in the Bronx.  It happened at about 5:05 p.m. on Wednesday.
    A 9-year-old boy plunged to his death out of a 30-story building in the Bronx.  It happened at about 5:05 p.m. on Wednesday.
  • God's Love We Deliver virtual bake sale for birthday cakes

    God's Love We Deliver virtual bake sale for birthday cakes

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 6:36 PM EDT2014-04-23 22:36:46 GMT
    God's Love We Deliver provides meals to people in the New York City area who are too sick to shop and cook for themselves. Clients also receive birthday cards that are decorated by local school students. Sometimes a cake is the only birthday gift that God's Love's clients will receive.
    God's Love We Deliver provides meals to people in the New York City area who are too sick to shop and cook for themselves. Clients also receive birthday cards that are decorated by local school students. Sometimes a cake is the only birthday gift that God's Love's clients will receive.
  • NYPD Twitter hashtag backfires

    NYPD Twitter hashtag backfires

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 6:23 AM EDT2014-04-23 10:23:11 GMT
    A NYPD plan intended to better connect with the community seems to have backfired a bit. The police department asked its twitter followers to share pictures of themselves with New York City police officers using the hashtag "myNYPD." Some did share nice pictures, but others not so much.Some of the first pictures posted showed regular citizens standing with very friendly looking police officers.
    A NYPD plan intended to better connect with the community seems to have backfired a bit. The police department asked its twitter followers to share pictures of themselves with New York City police officers using the hashtag "myNYPD." Some did share nice pictures, but others not so much.Some of the first pictures posted showed regular citizens standing with very friendly looking police officers.
Powered by WorldNow

KSAZ-TV & KUTP
511 W. Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ 85003

Phone: (602) 257-1234
Fax: (602) 262-0177

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices