Bus run by company with history of violations crashes in Virginia, killing 4
BOWLING GREEN, Va. — A bus run by a company with a record of safety problems overturned on a Virginia highway early yesterday, killing four people and injuring several others.
The driver faces a reckless driving charge and police say fatigue was a factor in the crash on Interstate 95. The company, which offers cheap fares, has been involved in several accidents over the last two years. It also has been cited over that same time for 46 violations of drivers being fatigued.
The SkyExpress bus swerved off northbound I-95 about 30 miles north of Richmond, hit an embankment, and flipped. Fifty-four people were taken to area hospitals and treated for minor to severe injuries.
The bus departed Greensboro, N.C., 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, 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, based in Charlotte, N.C., 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.’’
Company drivers have been cited for 17 unsafe-driving violations, including eight for speeding, since 2009.
Three of SkyExpress’s 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 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, which runs 31 motor coaches with about 50 drivers.
SkyExpress offers $30 bus trips between New York and other cities.