Updated: 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, May 31, 2011 | Posted: 9:14 a.m. Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Bus Company In Va. Fatal Crash Cited For Violations
BOWLING GREEN, Va. —
A bus run by a company with a record of safety problems overturned on a Virginia highway early Tuesday, killing four people and injuring several others.
Bus Overturns On I-95
The driver faces a reckless driving charge and police say fatigue was a factor in the crash along Interstate 95. The company -- which offers cheap fares -- over the last two years has been involved in several accidents. It also has been cited for 46 violations of drivers being fatigued over that same time.
The SkyExpress bus swerved off northbound I-95, hit an embankment and flipped about 30 miles north of Richmond. Fifty-four people were taken to area hospitals and treated for minor to severe injuries.
The bus departed Charlotte on Monday night and was headed to Chinatown in New York City with 59 people aboard, including 37-year-old driver Kin Yiu Cheng, of Flushing, N.Y., police said. He is being held in an area jail on $3,000 bond and the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records, Charlotte-based SkyExpress Inc. buses have been involved in four crashes, with one injury or fatality -- it didn't specify which -- during the two-year period that ended May 20.
The company offered its condolences to the families of the four women killed and said it would cooperate fully in the investigation, which includes the National Transportation Board.
"This is the first serious accident involving any of its buses," SkyExpress said in a statement released through its media liaison, Gail Parenteau. "The bus driver has never before been involved in an accident."
Its drivers have been cited for 17 unsafe-driving violations, including eight for speeding, since 2009. It received a 62.9 percent rating. That means it performed worse than nearly 63 percent of comparable transportation companies in that category.
Three of SkyExpress' 46 violations for fatigued driving were classified as serious. It ranked worse than 86 percent of similar companies in the fatigue category.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety said SkyExpress's federal safety report is rife with warning signs. The report by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration raises questions about tired drivers and driver fitness in particular, said the advocate group's general counsel, Henry Jasny.
"You can tell this is a problem carrier," he said of the company that runs 31 motor coaches with about 50 drivers.
SkyExpress offers $30 bus trips between New York and 15 cities in North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. It also goes to Washington, D.C.
In Charlotte on Tuesday, passenger Tiffany Reed said she was scared a crash would happen during her trip on another Sky Express bus on Monday night.
“This driver (was) speeding. He (was) swerving a little bit,” she said.
“I thought it was a good deal,” passenger Tiana Reid said. “Obviously now, with a bus crash, that doesn't seem like a good deal anymore.”