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NYC bus crash driver has manslaughter conviction

March 15, 2011 9:37:20 AM PDT
The driver of the bus that crashed on I-95 over the weekend, killing 15 people, has a criminal history.


Neighbor Derrick Brown defended his friend saying it's too early to draw conclusions about Saturday's horrific crash.

Several neighbors identified a photo as 40-year-old Ophadell Eric Williams, the driver of the doomed bus.

Williams left out of his family's Bushwick Brooklyn home flanked by family members wearing a black baseball cap, dark glasses and a grey suit. He did not say anything as he jumped into a dark green trailblazer and headed to downtown Brooklyn.

At Worldwide Tours in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn none of the drivers Eyewitness News spoke with knew Williams personally, and a spokesman deflected our questions about their policies on background checks for drivers.

Consider Williams rap sheet with arrests dating back to 1987; a fare beating charge that year, a 1991 manslaughter arrest where he served two years, 1994 and 1997 disorderly conduct and possession of stolen property, and 1997, where he was accused of stealing an $83,000 check from a police athletic fund and served three years in prison for grand larceny.

Williams has also been arrested for driving without a license and having three police scanners in 2003.

No one has been charged in the bus crash.

Governor Cuomo released a statement saying: "Given Ophadell Williams' criminal record and driving history, I have directed the New York State Inspector General to commence an immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding how Mr. Williams was able to obtain and retain a commercial driver's license. Inspector General Ellen Biben will coordinate her investigation with the State Police, as well as the ongoing investigation by Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson into this tragic accident."

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