On Friday a jury found driver Ophadell Williams not guilty of most charges he faced in connection with the horrific bus crash in the Bronx last year that left 15 Chinatown residents dead. City Council member Margaret Chin released a statement following last week’s verdict:
This verdict is a travesty and it sends the wrong message: that there are no consequences for long-distance bus drivers who ignore the speed limit; forgo sleep, drive recklessly; and put people’s lives in danger. The Bronx bus crash was one of the deadliest in our nation’s history. It was one of the saddest days for Chinatown; and one of the most difficult in my term as a Council Member. I am sad to say that justice has not been served in this case. This verdict does nothing to further our goal of making the low-cost tour bus industry safer… Despite this setback, we will not be deterred. We will remain steadfast in our calls for stronger regulation of the intercity tour bus industry so that we can prevent such horrific losses of life in the future.
The 2011 crash was one of several deadly accidents that helped galvanize support for an intercity bus permit system; state legislation was passed earlier this year. The NYC Department of Transportation expects to implement the new system in the next several months. Federal legislation to regulate so-called “Chinatown buses” has been languishing in Washington for many years.