The Flushing driver whose bus crashed and killed four of the passengers, two of whom were southeast Queens residents, was arraigned on several criminal charges in Virginia state court last week.
Kin Yiu Cheung, who was driving the Sky Express Bus Co. bus on I-95 in Caroline County, was charged with four counts of manslaughter last Thursday in the crash that shut down the highway for hours, a spokeswoman for the Virginia state police said.
The bus left Greensboro, N.C., at 10:30 p.m. May 30 and nearly six hours later Cheung allegedly fell asleep at the wheel, causing the bus to run off the right side of the northbound lanes of I-95 and overturn, according to the Virginia authorities.
Twenty of the 57 passengers on the vehicle, which was heading back to Chinatown, were hospitalized for various injuries and four died at the hospital, the police said. Karen Blyden-Decastro, 46, of Cambria Heights, and Josefa Torres, 78, of Jamaica, were two of the casualties.
Their families could not be reached for comment as of press time Tuesday evening.
Anthony Spencer, the prosecutor of Caroline County in North Carolina, said some of the passengers helped the authorities keep the scene safe.
“Thanks to her actions, there were no further injuries,” he said in a statement.
The U.S. Department of Transportation issued an out-of-service order for Sky Express Bus Co., a North Carolina-based bus company that offers cheap trips to destinations across the nation, including Chinatown, and barred it from any more interstate transportation services while the agency conducted an investigation into the crash.
“FMCSA will not tolerate passenger bus companies that endanger public safety,” Anne S. Ferro, the administrator for the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, said in a statement. “Working side-by-side with our North Carolina state law enforcement partners, we took strong action to shut down this unsafe bus company.”
The U.S. DOT said the company had various violations in the past related to screening drivers for licensing, experience, medical fitness and English language skills and having drivers operate too many hours.
This is the latest in a string of dangerous crashes that have involved cheap bus companies that operate out of Chinatown and Flushing.
On March 12, 14 passengers were killed at the Connecticut-New York border while they were traveling to Chinatown from a casino. The driver allegedly fell asleep at the wheel, according to investigators. Wei Wang, of Forest Hills, was killed two days later when the Super Luxury Tours Bus he was driving crashed near East Brunswick, N.J., while transporting 43 people from Chinatown to Pennsylvania.
Later that month, 23 people who were traveling to Canada on the Flushing-based Big Boy Coach Inc. were injured in a crash in New Hampshire.
Elected officials at the state and federal levels have been calling for more regulation of these bus companies in light of the accidents.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@c
©2011 Community News Group
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