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Bus operator had DWI record

Construction workers are on the scene at the fast-food restaurant that was devastated by the impact of the bus crash in Flushing which killed three people.
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After reports surfaced that the charter bus driver in Monday’s collision, which left three dead and 16 injured, had been fired from the MTA in 2015 for DWI, the state Department of Motor Vehicles said it had no knowledge that Raymond Mong, 49, was still behind the wheel in Flushing.

Mong was at the controls of a Dahlia Travel & Tours bus when he slammed into a city bus making a right turn from Main Street onto Northern Boulevard, which sent the MTA 20 bus spinning. Both vehicles ended up on the sidewalk, causing substantial damage to Kennedy’s restaurant on the southeast corner of the intersection.

“DMV has no record of being notified by Dahlia Transportation of Mr. Mong’s status as a driver for Dahlia at the time of the crash, as required by New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law Article 19-A,” DMV spokeswoman Tiffany Portzer said. “This is an ongoing state and federal investigation and we cannot comment further.”

The state DMV only inspects vehicles and does not oversee the driving records of operators for bus companies. And since the agency only monitors driving records in New York, it was unaware of Mong’s DWI conviction which took place in Connecticut.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigator held a news conference Tuesday with updates on the deadly collision between an MTA Q20 bus and tour bus, which he said was traveling at about 58 mph in a 30 mph zone when it struck the city bus.

NTBS investigator-in-charge Robert Accetta said the agency sent investigators to Flushing to examine possible factors behind the crash, such as driver fatigue. Two investigators visited the Dahlia Group, the Flushing company which owns the tour bus, to check driver logs, bus maintenance records and other data. Accetta said the company was cooperating.

The NTSB official said the agency’s experts in Washington examined video footage showing the Dahlia bus traveling eastbound and striking the MTA bus as it turned onto Northern. They concluded the bus was traveling between 54 and 62 miles an hour after making an estimate of an average 58 mph with a 4 mph margin of error on each side. Accetta said this was an early report and the video would be re-examined.

Asked at the news conference about whether driver fatigue or drugs were a factor, Accetta said there was no indication of either in the preliminary stages of the investigation.

The NYPD released the names of the three killed in the devastating crash: the operator of the tour bus, Raymond Mong, 49, of College Point; Gregory Liljefors, 61, of Flushing; and Henry Wdowiak, 68, of Flushing.

Liljefors was was on his way home on the MTA Q20 bus from an overnight shift as a security guard.

“He was coming home from work, and all I heard was that he was in an accident and he died,” said Audris Liljefors, Gregory’s wife. “He was a great person inside and out, wonderful husband.”

The couple had been married for 27 years.

Wdowiak was walking to the No. 7 train, on his way to work for a building management company, when he was struck. He had recently decided he would skip the bus in favor of a healthier lifestyle. His nephew Mariusz Trochmczyk, 36, remembered his uncle who married into the family after migrating to the United States two decades ago. He had a career as a pilot in the Polish military before his retirement and marriage to Halina Kurpiewska, whose family he joined with enthusiasm.

“We liked to spend time together. He had a knowledge of many things. We liked to talk and we liked to argue about the situation in Poland and all over the world,” Trochmczyk said, recalling his uncle as a tall and good-looking man for his age. “He was full of life.”

Wdowiak visited his Poland two months earlier, only to find out upon landing that his brother had died. Wdowiak and his wife were planning a move to California when the tragedy occurred on Monday.

Wdowiak’s funeral will be in Greenpoint before he is cremated and taken back to Poland by his daughter, Katarzyna, who still lives there.

The NYPD was towing the wreckage of the Q20 bus from the spot wher it came to rest on the sidewalk of the southeast corner of the intersection around 11 a.m. on Monday, just after Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke alongside MTA Chairman Joe Lhota.

With a “Northern Blvd” street sign splintering its way through twisted metal and a window, the bus came free from the rubble with a loud crunch as a crowd packed the sidewalks with cell phone cameras capturing the scene.

Dahlia Carrier Group has had seven traffic violations, according to a report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and at least one fatal accident prior to September 2015. Another wreck Dahlia was involved in took place in 2016, when a bus carrying people to a casino in Connecticut went off the road and hit a steel guardrail in the middle of a snowstorm. A total of 36 passengers were injured.

City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) said the safety of the downtown corridor was a concern of his because of speed and the number of pedestrians who walk in the area. He recalled the death of a pedestrian a number of years back at the intersection just east of Main Street on Northern and hoped the DOT would launch an investigation to improve conditions.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

Posted 12:00 am, September 21, 2017
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Reader feedback

Biil from Flushing says:
Why a joke. They know what the problem is. Just. Grow some balls a fix. It. All. Of flushing should be put under investigation if u look deep. Into this. You will understand. God bless the families of the loss. Queens need to take itself back. This can no longer go on
Sept. 18, 2017, 4:16 pm
Change is needed! says:
These Asians need to learn to respect signs! I'm sick of seeing them make right turns on northern blvd on a red light.( where are the cops when you need them?)
Sept. 18, 2017, 7:40 pm
Jayson from Flushing says:
This s has to stop. This influx of illegal asiaians has to stop. They are kill our community every thing the do is illegal. And when something happens they says no inglish and. Say sorry sorry. The company has many violations and city turning a blind eye. Investigate. Koo. And Megan. I'm sure there pockets ore fat with cash. Take America back. See something says something.
Sept. 18, 2017, 7:54 pm
Tom from Queens says:
Somebody didn't take their meds today..
Sept. 19, 2017, 2:52 pm
It was you from Queens says:
Tom, I think you were the one who did not take his meds today...this is a serious problem. We have to stop giving speeders and drunks their licenses back. Let them take the bus.
Sept. 19, 2017, 2:56 pm
... says:
Well obviously the missed meds where ones treating psychopathy. How awful to try to prove political points with a disaster like this. People DIED. Get over yourselves.
Sept. 19, 2017, 5:50 pm
Tom from Queens says:
A guy commenting anonymously on the internet under multiple different usernames is calling other people out to grow some balls. The irony.
Sept. 19, 2017, 8:23 pm
Nicky. Fingers from Whitestone says:
Tom. You like to live with garbage. Our community is been ripped apart. By all the money hungry. Politicians there are so many illegal immigrants hear. Worse then corona. Every thing they do is illegal just like taking the fish and turttle out of Bowen park and reselling it's at there local markets. And all the whore houses. Where do u think this money comes from. O. Yea hard work. It's all done if front of your face.
Sept. 19, 2017, 9:17 pm
Flushing from Chinese says:
This isn't something new . Flushing is not safe to drive because those Chinese drivers are the wrost ever. They don't know how to driver and they are always on there phones or smoking while driving. I don't even feel safe walking on the sidewalk cause of them.
Sept. 20, 2017, 6:28 am
Tom from Queens says:
You are clearly a very disturbed person and I hope you get the help you need.
Sept. 20, 2017, 8:57 am
Lyn from Corona says:
Tom, I agree with you. It is about the idiocy comments above that never allow America to be great! It is not about any culture it is about feeling and being safe when you are in your own community. HOw can we do that? and how as peeople within the community can we come togther?
Sept. 20, 2017, 10:10 am
GY from Flushing, NY says:
Residents of Flushing are concerned about the circumstances of this accident, it could have affected any of us who are in this area at any time of the day.
A driver's error or faulty operation of a bus is not the occasion or the excuse to vent racist rants. It is regrettable that some people are using this opportunity to post comments hostile to Asians on this board.
I am proud of our diverse community, uniquely AMERICAN, and I'm sure that the victims were of various ethnicities including Asian. I am sure that ethnic Asians in Flushing and elsewhere are intent on taking all practical measures to improve transportation safety in this busy corridor, collaboratively and individually.

The Flushing Community sympathizes with those affected by this accident, and will work diligently to make our transportation and the streets safer. We are a busy and vibrant community and we soldier on.
Sept. 20, 2017, 2:36 pm
Michael from Flushing says:
Don't be racist. Some of these keyboard cowards need to be shutdown. The racists are the problem. NYC is all immigrants. I'm not asian, but accept asians, black, white, hispanic, whatever as brothers and sisters. There are cultural differences. There are law-breakers and good citizens. Laws should be enforced. Immigrants should be allowed the chance to assimilate and make a living. If you like Chinese food flushing is heaven. I'm not crazy about it, but like the people and think it's a good family neighborhood that just needs a little help getting cleaned up as far as traffic, noise, garbage on the street, and petty crime. Be cool work and live together and don't be a miserable racist. This accident was sad. I saw it minutes after. Rest in peace. Accidents happen. A lot of people speed. This guy made a deadly mistake and a lot of people have to pay. Sad stuff.
Sept. 20, 2017, 3:59 pm
Not an accident from Queens says:
Sorry, but going twice the speed limit and having a collision is not an accident. It is someone committing suicide. It is intentional. But that being said, anyone who drives with a suspended or revoked license or without obtaining a license in this country should be charged with a felony and if applicable, deported.
Sept. 20, 2017, 4:24 pm
Citizen from Queens says:
Tom you must be Asian or married to one. Look at all the illegal home renovations!!! Someone at the Buildings Dept must be driving a Mercedes or BMW. Kickback pays well. How is leaving one wall on a house a remodel????
Sept. 20, 2017, 6:54 pm
RKO from Flushing says:
The bus company should be put under investigation for what they did. They knew his history but still put him behind the wheel some one was been payed off. Or he had a debt to pay for being brought to America o yea what about the asiain family that was useing children as salves o yea that ok. There hard working Americans. And fallow American values they are nothing like the past leagal immigrants that came to this country Not illegal immigrants. There two different things sooner or later. They will be deported.
Sept. 21, 2017, 1:27 pm
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. says:
I wish there will be much stricter rules and regulations to tackle these private bus bad apples. Meanwhile, Vision Zero = Zero Vision.
Sept. 22, 2017, 2:40 pm
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. says:
Talk about a rotten apple in the bus industry.
Sept. 29, 2017, 7:05 pm

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