Three people died and another 16 suffered injuries—including critical injuries—in a crash involving a tour bus and an MTA bus. The bus crash in Queens, New York, happened early on September 18, in an accident that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed in a news conference. Since the accident, critics have asked New York City Council to examine charter bus safety rules, to see if they can be strengthened in light of the tragedy.
Among those killed in the accident:
- The driver of the tour bus
- A passenger on the MTA bus
- A pedestrian who was walking in the area of the crash.
MTA and Tour Bus Collision Crashes Into Nearby Building
At around 6:18 a.m. a Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) bus and a private charter bus operated by Dahlia Group Inc. crashed at the intersection of Main Street and Northern Boulevard as the MTA bus attempted to turn right onto Northern Boulevard. The force of the collision sent one of the buses into a nearby building, which later caught fire. Officials are now determining whether the building is still structurally sound.
Although an investigation into the accident is ongoing, speed is believed to be a factor and surveillance video shows the Dahlia charter bus running a red light immediately before hitting the bus.
“These buses spun around, that requires an enormous amount of speed,” said Joe Lhota, chairman of the MTA.
The tour bus driver—who was the only person on the tour bus at the time of the crash—and a passenger on the MTA bus were both pronounced dead at the hospital. The tour bus driver was identified as Raymond Mong. The passenger on the MTA bus was identified as Gregory Liljefors.
A pedestrian, identified as Henryk Wdowiak, was trapped beneath one of the buses and died before being taken from the scene. Up to 16 people were injured, including some who suffered critical injuries.
“He was a good man, a hard-working man,” Henryk Wdowiak’s wife, Halina Kurpiewska told an ABC news reporter in Polish. “I am devastated.”
The MTA driver was among those taken to the hospital for treatment.
“We’ve had a really tragic morning here,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio in a news conference. “It’s hard to compare it to anything I’ve ever seen from the sheer destruction from the impact of this collision.”
Dahlia Tour Bus Driver Was Fired from MTA in 2015
Officials at MTA reportedly confirmed that Mong, the tour bus driver who allegedly caused the Queens bus crash, had been employed by the MTA, but was fired for cause after he pleaded guilty to operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. According to court records, Mong faced the charges after fleeing the scene of an accident in April 2015 in Connecticut.
Meanwhile, Dahlia Group was cited for multiple safety violations, including seven violations for unsafe driving. In 2016, a bus operated by the company was involved in a crash in Connecticut that killed one person and injured another 36.
Witnesses Describe Scene of the Two Bus Collision in New York as “Crazy”
Those who saw and survived the crash described the scene as terrifying.
“It was bad, it was really bad,” Mike Ramos said. “I felt the vibrations shake my truck…I saw a guy with a cracked head, a cracked skull open. I saw guys bleeding all over the place…When I ran across the street, there was a woman pinned, screaming in the back of the city bus. I guess she was one of the pedestrians walking on the sidewalk.”
One of the victims reportedly hit his head so hard he was unconscious for several minutes.
Meanwhile, a different witness said her car was nearly hit by the charter bus as it sped through lights.
“I looked up, and I see this bus fly right by us,” said Sheila Baez. “He flew, we was at the red light, he flew right by us. He passed the red light…speeding. He went past the red light, he went past the other red light, and smacked into the bus.”
Officials to Investigate Queens Bus Crash
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has sent investigators to Queens to investigate the crash. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will assist in the investigation and will review Dahlia Group’s record. The New York State Department of Transportation’s Public Transportation Safety Board will also be involved in the inquiry.
The crash has also led to calls for the New York City Council to look into charter bus accidents and regulations and also redesigning the intersection where the accident took place.