BRONX, NY – On March 12, 2011, a tour bus carrying 31 passengers was headed from Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut to Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood when it was involved in a horrifying accident.
According to bus driver, Ophadell Williams, the tour bus was in the right hand lane and was clipped by a tractor-trailer passing in the center lane. Authorities say his story is still under investigation. In an evasive maneuver, Williams swerved, causing the bus to hit the guardrail, topple over, and skid along the rail for 300 feet. The bus hit a support post for a highway sign, and the post tore through the top half of the bus, shearing off the roof. The pole entered the bus through the front window and cut the bus in half laterally, slicing through the seating area along the passenger window line.
13 people were killed immediately in the bus accident, and many more were injured. Two more people died in the hours and days after the accident from wounds sustained in the crash. The scene of the accident was gruesome, with at least one of the passengers decapitated. Limbs were severed among both survivors and deceased.Rescue teams arrived quickly and were shocked at the carnage. 20-year veteran of rescues, Captain James Ellson, said body parts were strewn about. “It was a pile of humans, either still in their seats or on the floor, wrapped in the metal, wrapped in the wreckage.”
The evening of the crash brought new developments to the investigation into the cause of the tractor-trailer accident. Major Michael Kopy of the State Police said in a news conference that authorities had seized a trailer on Long Island and a tractor in Westchester County. Both had been taken to a police compound in Farmingdale to determine if they may have clipped the bus.
Police are also collecting evidence from surveillance tapes and witness testimony, as well as conducting tests to see if the bus driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As of now, Major Kopy said the crash is being handled as a criminal investigation.
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