Charter bus driver charged with manslaughter in deadly crash

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: March 20, 2019 | 11:55 a.m.
Updated: March 20, 2019 | 3:22 p.m.

PRINCE GEORGE – A New York man has been formally charged with manslaughter in connection with Tuesday’s deadly charter bus crash that killed two passengers and injured several more in Prince George County near the Petersburg line.

In a statement, Virginia State Police confirmed 40-year-old Yui Man Chow of Staten Island, New York was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter after the bus he was driving overturned at the Exit 45 on-ramp along Interstate 95 near the I-295 interchange just before 5:30 a.m. Tuesday. Investigators said the crash occurred as the bus attempted to take the exit ramp but, the bus ended up running off the left side of the ramp and overturned.

At this stage, authorities said speed is being considered “a causative factor in the crash.” The posted safe speed for the ramp where the crash occurred is 25 miles per hour, which is prominently featured on a yellow warning sign prior to the exit.

Minutes after the crash, Prince George and a number of neighboring communities and agencies descended on Interstate 95 to render aid to the bus driver and 56 passengers on board the bus operated by Massachusetts-based company Tao’s Travel.

Wednesday, the number of fatalities remained at two, an adult male who died at the scene and an adult woman who died a few hours later at Southside Regional Medical Center.

Mid-day Wednesday, one of the victims was identified as 81-year-old Jamaica, NY resident Janetta Cumberbatch. The second victim, an adult male remains unidentified.

Tuesday’s charter bus crash along Exit 45 left two people dead and many others injured. According to Virginia State Police, speed is being considered a factor in the crash. (VSP)

The remaining passengers, who range in age from toddlers to adults, were taken to four hospitals in the region, including SRMC, John Randolph Medical Center, and Metro-Richmond’s Chippenham and Johnston Willis hospitals for treatment of injuries ranging from minor to serious. According to SRMC representative Brandon Seier, their facility, which was four miles away from the crash site, received a total of nine patients following the crash, comprised of six men and three women.

He added, as of Tuesday evening, four patients remained hospitalized at SRMC for treatment or observation, two had been transferred to other facilities for higher levels of care, and two others had been treated and released, with one other patient dying from their injuries.

According to Karen Bolton, representative for HCA Hospital’s John Randolph Medical Center and Tri-City Emergency Room, Hopewell’s John Randolph received three patients and the free-standing emergency room along Temple Avenue in Prince George received one patient during Tuesday’s crash.

The Tao’s Travel-operated bus departed from Orlando, Florida before stopping in Rocky Mount, North Carolina for a driver change. The bus was on its way to its final destination in New York when the crash occurred.

State Police deferred questions regarding specific route details and passenger information to the bus company. When contacted following the crash, a man answered the phone stating they “have nothing to say” and that “they are still investigating.”

According to federal records, the company has not had an accident in the last 24 months.

The Prince George Central Wellness Center, an asset to the community became an asset to the victims of Tuesday’s crash, serving as a reunification center for passengers. Hospitals are transporting treated victims to the center to reconnect with family upon their release. 

Prince George County, where the accident occurred, sprang into action to provide aid to the passengers following the crash, including getting buses to the scene to transport people to the county’s Central Wellness Center along Route 156 in Disputanta, converting the community center into a staging area and reunification center for the crash victims and their families. In addition, the county’s emergency services center fielded calls from family members seeking information about Tuesday’s crash.

Area hospitals who are treating crash victims are providing transportation to the Central Wellness Center for patients who have been treated and released.

Chow is being held at Riverside Regional Jail. As of this report, court records show Chow will have an arraignment hearing on March 25.

FOR FAMILIES

Family members can call the Prince George County Emergency Services Center at 804-733-2659 for information related to those on the bus.

A Family Reunification Center is being established at the Prince George County Central Wellness Center at 11023 Prince George Drive in Disputanta, Va 23842. – View on Google Maps

Copyright 2019 by Womack Publishing
Crash scene, Chow image: Virginia State Police
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