RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – An appeals court has upheld a bus driver’s convictions for a Virginia crash that killed four passengers, injured dozens and cast national attention on low-fare carriers operating on the East Coast.
Kin Yiu Cheung dozed off as he was driving a Sky Express bus from Greensboro, N.C., to New York City just before dawn on May 30, 2011. The bus with 57 passengers aboard veered off Interstate 95 about 30 miles north of Richmond and overturned. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that driver fatigue likely contributed to the crash because Cheung had limited opportunities for quality sleep the previous few days.
Cheung was convicted of four counts of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to six years in prison.
The Virginia Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected Cheung’s claim that prosecutors failed to prove he demonstrated reckless disregard for human life. The court said there was ample evidence Cheung knew he was in no condition to drive, including his heavy consumption of energy drinks and his own admission to police that he was sleepy right before the crash and that he fell asleep while driving.
Cheung’s attorney, Taylor B. Stone, did not immediately return a telephone message Wednesday.
Witnesses at Cheung’s 2012 trial described a harrowing experience as the bus swerved from side to side and changed speeds erratically for up to an hour while the driver guzzled coffee and energy drinks that he had picked up at stop along the route. A passenger who speaks Mandarin overheard a cellphone conversation in which Cheung told someone in his native language that he doesn’t get enough rest.
Passengers testified that when the bus hit rumble strips on the shoulder of the highway, they noticed the driver slumped to the right with his head on his shoulder.
“Given the difficulty that he had driving the bus during the hour before the crash, Cheung should have realized that his impaired condition was affecting his driving and posing a risk to the safety of those on the bus,” the appeals court said.
The accident caught the attention of government safety officials, who in June 2012 shut own more than two dozen similar curbside bus operations for safety violations. The NTSB said Transportation Department officials had been in the process of shutting down Sky Express at the time of the crash but had given the company an extra 10 days to appeal an unsatisfactory safety rating.
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Skin Cancer in Arizona: Stats, facts and new immunotherapy drugs making strides
- Caring Crisis: Rising tide In Alzheimer’s disease leads to shortage of caregivers
- Distracted walking injuries end up not so funny
- Scary situations: 5 quick tips before you let a contractor in your home
- Four ways telemedicine is changing the health care industry
- 5 mistakes homeowners make in the spring
- Three rivers run through it: Exploring Arizona's waterways
- Smart home basics: things you need to know to get started
- 5 Surprising things causing back pain
- Arizona agriculture is a $17.1B industry
- Timeline: Arizona's roots in brewing history
- 5 reasons to love the D-backs this season
- Tips for taking your home entertainment experience to the backyard
- Tech-related injuries your parents never experienced
- Workers comp: Signs your co-worker could be a fraud
- Who's the real founder of America's pastime?
- Epidemic rising? What you need to know about Alzheimer's in Arizona
- 5 unforgettable Wooden Award winners
- Family and hard work are keys to success of modern dairy farmers
- Genetic testing could hold answers for colon cancer survival
- Cold beers and baseball: A beer lover's guide to Spring Training
- Telecommuting: 5 tips to make it work for employers and employees
- See how top CFOs feel about economic growth in the Valley
- Migraine myths that keep patients from effective treatments
- Here’s why Gaydos went tankless with his water heater
- Bocce ball and basketball: How you can help Arizona's Special Olympics athletes
- Tips on building the best wine room in Arizona
- Avoid the nightmare: 6 tips to choose a great contractor
- Breast cancer: Improved testing and treatments means more survivors
- Failed back surgery: New hope for patients living in pain