Deadly accident in Chinatown

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image none"><span>none</span></div><span class="caption-text">A dump truck hit a private bus this morning, sending the bus crashing into a building in Chinatown.  One person was killed and three others injured. </span></div>
An Eyewitness News Exclusive
June 24, 2008 8:52:35 PM PDT
An out-of-control truck struck a bus, killing one person and injuring several others.The accident happened at Bowery and Canal Streets around 8:00 this morning.

Witnesses said the truck came barreling down the off-ramp from Manhattan Bridge and appeared out of control as it headed toward the busy intersection.

"It hit the sidewalk first," explained Ernest Fields. "It hit a fire hydrant, and then one of the axles in the back came off and I heard a loud bang."

The bang was the truck slamming into the back of a bus belonging to a private company. The bus was picking up passengers at the corner. Some passengers were standing in line when the truck hit the bus.

"When the wire fell, I ran backward because I did not want to get electrocuted or something," said one of those passengers.

The impact was so hard the truck pushed the bus several feet up the street and into the front of the United Commercial Bank.

One person was killed, apparently suffering a heart attack after being hit by debris. She was identified as 57-year-old Lai Ho, who lived in the neighborhood. Several other people were injured.

"We saw a lady lying there (in the street) bleeding from her arms. Then we saw another lady on the bus and she was screaming for help because she could not get out," said Jack Lok.

The driver of the dump truck, 54-year-old Alejandro Fallo, told detectives the brakes on his truck failed. He passed a breathalyzer test at the scene.

Investigators said the truck appeared to be overloaded. The truck is registered to CPQ Freight out of South Carney.

"Today's tragic accident at the corner of the Bowery and Canal Street once again points to the dangers of the unregulated increase in commercial truck traffic in the area," said councilman Alan Gerson. "We need a sensible truck and bus management plan that regulates the flow of commercial vehicles through this densely populated and highly trafficked area."

Even though the bus does not appear at fault in anyway, people in the neighborhood said they are always complaining about where Fung Wah parks its buses at this tricky intersection.

Fung Wah, a low-cost carrier that takes passengers between Boston and New York City, has had problems in the past.

  • In September 2006, 34 people were injured when a Fung Wah rolled over in Auburn on an off-ramp from Interstate 290 to Route 12.
  • In August 2005, a Fung Wah bus traveling from Boston to New York caught fire on Interstate 91 in Meriden, Conn. The passengers all got out safely, but within minutes the bus was entirely engulfed in flames. State police said the driver was driving too fast.

After that crash, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration fined Fug Wah more than $31,000, in part, for letting non-English speaking drivers carry its passengers.

On the web:

--- NOTE: We want to clarify some information we reported last night.

Police sources, drawing from online federal records, told Eyewitness News the truck involved in the accident - owned by CPQ Freight Systems in South Kearny NJ - should not have been on the road in New York as a result of an order issued earlier against the company by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Police sources have since told Eyewitness News that they learned that CPQ subsequently satisfied its fine, and was in fact operating legally in New York at the time of yesterday's accident. The sources quoted new information from documents made public on Tuesday.


STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Kemberly Richardson