Bus driver in Bronx crash says he was awake, sober

March 24, 2011 12:56:11 PM PDT
The bus driver in the crash that killed 15 passengers in the Bronx insists he was sober, well-rested and totally awake at the time of the accident.

Two survivors have filed lawsuits claiming the driver had dozed off behind the wheel. But 40-year-old Ophadell Williams says he was in control of the bus until a tractor-trailer veered toward him.

Williams says he crashed after swerving to avoid the big rig. Williams' lawyer says the March 12 crash was quite simply a tragic accident.


Williams' wife, Holly Williams, spoke to Eyewitness News earlier this week. She says her husband is still trying to process how the bus ran off the road.

"He's very hurt, withdrawn. He has injuries also," she said.

Unflattering details about Ophadell's past have come to light in recent weeks. He has a manslaughter conviction and has served prison time for grand larceny and driving without a valid license.

His wife says she just knows him as a loving father and husband.

"I don't think your past should dictate your future. Everyone deserves a second chance," she said.

Ever since the accident, Holly says she's had to shield their 6-year old daughter from news accounts about her father's criminal past.

"It's a nightmare, and it's something you can't wake up from," Holly Williams said. "Our condolences go out to the families," she said.

Despite his own injuries, Williams' lawyers say he played a role in helping the injured passengers after the bus crashed.