Trial of charter bus driver continued to summer

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: March 2, 2020 | 12:30 p.m.

Chow, driver of charter bus, faces manslaughter charges in March 2019 crash

PRINCE GEORGE – A New York charter bus driver charged in connection with a March 2019 rollover that killed two and injured dozens of others will return to the county’s circuit court later this summer after his trial was continued.

According to court records, Staten Island native Yui Man Chow will remain out on bond as he awaits his next trial date, now set to begin on August 31, after his two-day involuntary manslaughter trial scheduled for last week was continued at the request of the Commonwealth, represented by local prosecutor Susan Fierro.

“It was a Commonwealth motion to continue without objection due to witness availability issues and to continue discovery review with defense counsel,” the commonwealth attorney said of the continuance last week.

Chow faces two counts of felony involuntary manslaughter following the March 2019 crash of the charter bus he was driving along Interstate 95 at Exit 45 offramp.

On what turned out to be a foggy morning across the region, the bus, according to Virginia State Police reports at the time, was attempting to utilize Exit 45, which links to South Crater Road but, and, as it traveled along the one-lane ramp, the charter bus ended up running off the ramp to the left and overturned.

At that time, state police said speed was being considered “a causative factor in the crash” with the posted safe speed for the ramp being 25 miles per hour.

The early morning crash was quickly declared a mass casualty incident by first responders, which helped mobilize resources at the scene from across the region and within the county to help backfill responding Prince George County units.

In all, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records reported two deaths and 54 injuries as a result of the crash.

As officials in Prince George County worked to triage the situation, transforming the Central Wellness Center along Route 156 into a reunification center for passengers and those trying to reconnect with loved ones, state police and local prosecutors moved forward with charging Chow with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Making no comment during his first court appearance after the crash, Chow was ordered to remain in the state until his next scheduled court date in June of 2019, where he was eventually allowed to be released from the confines of a location tracking ankle monitor and granted bond. At the same hearing, a judge gave prosecutors the go-ahead to present their felony manslaughter case to the grand jury and a misdemeanor reckless driving charge was dropped.

“That is the procedure on every felony case that is charged by warrant,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Fierro detailed to The Prince George Journal last summer. “There is a preliminary hearing where, either the defendant can waive the hearing or have us put on evidence, and the court needs to find probable cause in order to send the case to circuit court. So, what happened … was really the same thing that would happen in any felony case charged by warrant.”

That grand jury would issue indictments against Chow, charging him with two counts of  involuntary manslaughter, thus moving the case to the county’s circuit court.

At the time of the March 2019 crash, Mass.-based Tao’s Travel, when reached for comment, said they “have nothing to say” and that they were still investigating the deadly crash. Follow-up calls to Chow’s attorney, an attorney from the Bahuriak Law Group out of Philadelphia were not returned.

Based on last week’s hearing, Chow is now expected to go on trial nearly 18 months since the March 2019 crash and six months after he was initially expected to be tried during what was scheduled to be a two-day trial last week.

According to Fierro, the length of the continuance was mostly due to the defense attorney’s calendar and availability.

If convicted, Chow faces up to a decade behind bars with a mandatory minimum of one year in prison.

Copyright 2020 by Womack Publishing
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