NY bus crash driver 'not allowed licence'

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The Independent US

The driver of a coach that crashed in New York City, killing 15 people, should not have been behind the wheel because of a driving suspension and several traffic violations.

Ophadell Williams, 40, from Brooklyn, was due to speak to investigators yesterday. His driving privileges were suspended in 1995 after he ignored tickets for speeding and driving without a licence.

He was also involved, with others, in the fatal stabbing of a man in Brooklyn in 1990 and served two years in prison for manslaughter. Williams was arrested again in 1997 for forging a cheque. He was convicted of grand larceny and imprisoned from 1998 to 2002. The revelations prompted Governor Andrew Cuomo to launch a state investigation into how Williams was able to hold a valid commercial driver's licence at the time of the crash early last Saturday.

The coach, owned by World Wide Travel, was taking gamblers home to Chinatown, Manhattan, from the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut. The vehicle, carrying 32 people, was sheared in half by a sign pole after overturning on the highway.

Williams told police at the scene that the coach was clipped by a lorry but investigators found no evidence backing his story. Passengers contradicted his account and told officers that Williams dozed off at the wheel several times before the bus careened out of control.

World Wide Travel has declined to comment.