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Drug test negative for prison bus driver

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The accident injured 42 men, said John Mohan, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections.

"The injuries for a majority of the former inmates were not serious," Mohan said. "One had a dislocated shoulder, but the rest were not badly injured."

The passengers, who had just been discharged from Rikers, were taken to seven nearby hospitals with injuries ranging from a broken leg and a shoulder dislocation to two with head lacerations. Most of the former prisoners were treated and released within hours of the accident.

Two of the men were taken to Elmhurst Hospital with head lacerations and were released less than 24 hours later, said Dario Centorcelli, an Elmhurst Hospital spokesman.

The driver of the bus, a Department of Corrections employee whose name was not released, volunteered to take a Breathalyzer test after the early-morning crash Nov. 15, and the test did not show any traces of alcohol in his system, said Police Officer Valerie St. Rose, a police spokeswoman.

"He passed the drug test," Mohan said. "Basically he offered to take the Breathalyzer, but a drug test is a pretty routine thing that we do in any kind of accident."

St. Rose said no charges will be filed against the driver.

The van was traveling west on Northern Boulevard at about 3:15 a.m. when the driver swerved to avoid a tractor-trailer that had pulled onto the road between 56th and 57th streets, St. Rose said. When the driver tried to regain control of the vehicle, it flipped on its left side and skidded about 75 feet before crashing into a white Lincoln Town Car.

Both the driver of the bus and the driver of the Town Car - a livery cab - were treated and released, St. Rose said. Their names were not released.

Mohan said ex-inmates are usually dropped off at Queensborough Plaza, about two miles away from Rikers, because of the many trains and buses available n the area, and each former inmate is given a MetroCard.

Mohan said the bus was equipped with seat belts, but he was not sure if the vehicle was filled to capacity.

The bus is very much like a standard school bus, with seats for 32 passengers and room in the aisle for 20 standing passengers, he said.

Posted 7:10 pm, October 10, 2011
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