Driver pleads guilty in fatal tour bus crash in Delaware

AP News
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Posted: Oct 15, 2015 3:24 PM

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — The driver of a tour bus that crashed in Delaware last year, killing three passengers, pleaded guilty to criminal charges on Thursday.

Jinli Zhao, 57, of Flushing, New York, pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of operating a vehicle causing death. He will be sentenced Jan. 29.

The maximum sentence is 7 1/2 years in prison and a fine of $3,450. There will be a presentencing investigation.

Zhao, who spoke Mandarin Chinese through an interpreter, admitted he was operating the bus without "due regard for road, weather and traffic conditions." His attorney declined to comment until after sentencing.

A spokesman for the Delaware Department of Justice said in a statement, "The State is satisfied that this agreement properly addresses the facts and circumstances surrounding this tragic crash and holds Mr. Zhao accountable for his actions."

The bus overturned on a curved exit ramp on Sept. 21, 2014, as it was returning 49 passengers to New York following a three-day sightseeing tour. A bus company official said Zhao reported taking a detour because of congestion on Interstate 95.

Hua'y Chen, 54, of New York City was pinned under the bus and died at the scene. Idil Bahsi, 30, from Istanbul, Turkey, died later that day at a hospital.

Another passenger, Jyostina Poojari, 43, from Mumbai, India, died of her injuries about two weeks later.