Reckless driving charge dropped in deadly Virginia bus crash

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 30, 2011 8:18 PM
Reckless driving charge dropped in deadly Virginia bus crash

By Matthew A. Ward

CHESAPEAKE, Va (Reuters) - Virginia prosecutors on Friday dropped a misdemeanor reckless driving charge against the driver of a bus that crashed on I-95 when he fell asleep at the wheel, killing four people, a court clerk said.

That crash, along with several other East Coast bus accidents this year including one in March that killed 15 people returning to New York from a Connecticut casino, sparked calls for tighter regulation of discount bus operators.

Driver Kin Yiu Cheung, 37, of New York, still faces four felony involuntary manslaughter charges linked to the I-95 crash and is scheduled to go to trial in January. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Cheung admitted to falling asleep at the wheel of a Sky Express passenger bus traveling from Greensboro, North Carolina, to New York City, according to court filings.

The bus veered off I-95 about 30 miles north of Richmond on May 31, plowing into an embankment and overturning with 58 people aboard.

The U.S. Department of Transportation had been moving to shutter Sky Express prior to the crash, and afterward regulators banned the company from operating interstate transportation services.

Officials found multiple violations by the company related to driver qualification and drug and alcohol compliance, hours on the road and vehicle maintenance.

Caroline County Commonwealth Attorney Tony Spencer could not be reached for comment to explain why he opted against pursuing the misdemeanor reckless driving charge. Cheung's attorney could also not immediately be reached for comment.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Cynthia Johnston)