A tour bus crash last year that claimed 15 lives was caused by a driver suffering from too little sleep and a bus company that provided too little safety oversight, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday.
The five-member board, in a unanimous vote, said the driver, Ophadell Williams, had almost no sleep in the three days leading up to the March 12, 2011, accident except for naps he took on the bus while passengers were inside a Connecticut casino gambling.
The bus was traveling at 78 miles per hour in a 50 mph zone of Interstate 95 while returning to New York's Chinatown when it ran off the road, clattered along a highway guard rail, toppled over and crashed into the support pole for a highway sign. The pole knifed through the bus front to back along the window line, peeling the roof off all the way to the back tires. Besides those killed, 17 other passengers were injured, some severely.
There was no sign that Williams attempted to brake or steer the bus back onto the highway after striking the guard rail, another indication his performance was degraded by fatigue, investigators told the board. They stopped short of saying Williams had fallen asleep.