Second rider sues, says driver caused bus crash

March 24, 2011 1:51:39 PM PDT
Accounts of the deadly tour bus crash in the Bronx are beginning to emerge with the first lawsuits filed by surviving victims.

Their versions of what happened on the bus conflict in various degrees.

From that of driver Ophadell Williams, whose attorney, in online reports, says his client lost control after swerving to avoid hitting a tractor trailer.

"Does your client bring into the picture, that truck? Did he see a truck?" asked Eyewitness News.

"No, no, in fact, he vehemently denies that there was any other involvement with a motor vehicle," said Gregory Cerchione, the victim's attorney.

Gregory Cerchione's client Erold Jean Marie, a 47-year-old doorman, was sitting in the second to the last row on the right side of the bus as it pulled out of the Mohegan Sun Casino.

The drivers' attorney told Eyewitness News, his client slept before his shift and on the bus while waiting for his passengers.

This was his normal run, he said.

Cerchione's client says he fell asleep during the trip but awoke several times when he felt the bus hit the rumble strips as it moved onto the roadway shoulder.

The attorney says his client spoke up when it happened a second time.

"At that point he actually yelled to the driver, 'Driver wake up!' and the bus then at that point traveled appropriately in the southbound lane," Cerchione said.

His client tells him the third time it happened, the bus then flipped on its side skidding along the breakdown lane and crashing into a sign station.

A large steel pole then ripped right through the center of the bus, killing 15 people.

"He was the first one out of the bus. The bus operator came out. The first thing my client said to him, 'Why did you kill all these people?' and in response to that the bus operator says, 'Didn't you see the tractor trailer?' he says, 'There was no tractor trailer'," Cerchione said.

The driver's attorney told Eyewitness News, "It's an accident, any way you look at it. A tragic one."

Jean Marie is demanding $200 million in damages. The other passenger who sued, 74-year-old Yuke Chue Lo, is asking for $20 million.