State suspends license of driver in Bronx bus crash

March 17, 2011 6:27:50 PM PDT
State officials have suspected the license of the tour bus driver involved in last weekend's deadly accident.

Authorities said Ophadell Williams used two identities to conceal his spotty driving record from scrutiny when he applied for a commercial driver's license and for jobs in the transportation industry.

He primarily used the name Ophadell Williams, but when he was summonsed for motor vehicle violations, he told the officer his name was Eric Williams. That way, he was able to keep the record under the Ophadell name clean.

For example, Williams was summonsed for speeding and for driving without a license twice in 1995. On all three occasions, he claimed his name was Eric.

State DMV officials were able to suspend his license because when he submitted his commercial driver license application under the name Ophadell, he did not reveal the prior suspension of his license under the name Eric.

State officials were taken aback at the ease with which Williams was able to use different identities to evade the DMV system, prompting the state Inspector General to launch an investigation earlier this week.

The state DMV also turned over their findings to the New York State Police, the lead agency in the bus crash investigation, and the state Inspector General, who is trying to figure out how all this deception went on for so long.

Some of the first emergency workers to reach the scene of a deadly bus crash were being questioned Thursday by investigators from the state police and the National Transportation Safety Board.

The bus ran off the road along Interstate 95 in the Bronx as it was returning to Chinatown from an overnight trip to a Connecticut casino Saturday. The bus tipped on its side and slammed into a pole that sheared it nearly end to end.

15 people died in the crash. The first of many funerals for the victims will be held on Friday.

Some key questions remain unanswered. Investigators haven't released drug and alcohol tests on the driver's blood. They also haven't said whether evidence has been found to support the driver's contention that he was clipped by a passing tractor-trailer.