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Published: Sunday, 3/13/2011 - Updated: 4 years ago

NYC bus crash driver has manslaughter conviction

Passengers say driver swerved for no reason before accident


Emergency personnel investigate the scene of a bus crash on Interstate-95 in the Bronx borough of New York Saturday. Emergency personnel investigate the scene of a bus crash on Interstate-95 in the Bronx borough of New York Saturday.
NEW YORK — Investigators on Monday were examining surveillance video from a Connecticut casino as they tried to retrace the actions of a driver with a criminal history whose bus overturned in a horrific weekend crash, killing 15 people.

The investigation continued to focus on the driver, Ophadell Williams, 40, whose story that his tour bus carrying 32 people was clipped by a tractor-trailer has been contradicted by passenger and witnesses who saw him driving erratically before Saturday's crash on Interstate 95.

The bus, taking gamblers back to Manhattan's Chinatown after a few hours at the casino, was sheared in half by a sign pole after overturning on the highway, leaving a jumbled mess of bodies. Alcohol and drug test results for Williams were pending.

Williams was convicted of manslaughter for his role in a stabbing in 1990 and served just over two years, according to New York State Department of Correctional Services. He had initially been charged with second-degree murder.

He also served about three years, from 1998 through the middle of 2002, for grand larceny for removing an $83,905 check from a Police Athletic League fund, according to Linda Foglia, correctional services spokeswoman. Williams used aliases in both those cases.

He also was arrested by New York City police on June 4, 2003, for driving with a suspended license, and for possession police radios. In 1987, he was arrested on charges of trying to get on public transportation without paying.

New York State Police Investigator Joseph Becerra wouldn't say specifically what police were seeking from surveillance video. He said the video was from inside and outside the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Conn.

"We're trying to recreate his whereabouts while he was there," Becerra said. He said police hoped to see video from the time the bus arrived Friday night to its departure early Saturday. Meanwhile, a 70-year-old man died Monday morning at St. Barnabas' Hospital in the Bronx, bringing the death toll to 15.

State police also identified all but two of the victims. Officials said most were of Chinese descent, not all of their ages were available. Miguel Aquino, 55; Kam Ming Eng, 81; Yuk Chun Eng; Jose Garcia; Bing Fong Lee; Don Lee, 76; Biqun Mei; Ninh Tran; Jian Hua Wan, 40; May Lin Won; Ock Thling, 83; Yang T. Xian; and Michael Yeh, 65.

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