Continued follow up: bus driver charged and Sky Express shutdown after I-95 Richmond bus crash Tuesday morning

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has responded in full force to the Virginia car crash that occurred on I-95 Tuesday morning, May 31, 2011, close to Richmond. Four people were killed and over fifty wounded.

Soon after the crash, the DOT began an investigation of the bus company and the road to ascertain the cause of the crash. They cited the main factor to be driver fatigue. Further inquiry revealed that the bus company, Sky Express, Inc, had an anything but stellar record, with lower numbers of driver fitness and alertness ratings than almost every other bus company. Sky Express, Inc consistently did worse than the rest of the companies over the past two years with regard to lack of driver training, experience, or medical qualifications, as well as allowing drivers to work while sick or fatigued. The company also received 46 violations for keeping improper driving logs and a number of speeding citations.

During the investigation, all of Sky Express’ bus services stopped and the company promised to cooperate. Its operating registration was revoked and it received a shutdown order. However, merely days after the accident, the company was discovered painting over the named on their buses and illegally selling tickets under the logo of 108 Tours, trying to evade the shutdown order. The DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration demanded that Sky Express cease and desist and it is cracking down on any websites that may have aided in selling the tickets.

As for the driver, Kin Yiu Cheung was arrested, charged with reckless driving, and held for $3,000 bond. After his hearing on Wednesday, June 1, 2011, four counts of involuntary manslaughter were also added to his charge.

Cheung admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel and claims that when he woke up, he swerved sharply to the left. Passengers’ comments, which appeared in the affidavit, revealed that he kept drinking Red Bull and coffee and reacted very irritably toward the passengers. He was also overheard complaining on his cell phone about how tired he was and that there wasn’t much time in between drives. The police also discovered that his driving log was two days out-of-date, which he was allowed to update.

There is obviously a lot of liability against the bus driver and the bus company. The criminal charges have no relation to the civil claims brought by the injured and the families of the deceased.