The driver of a bus that was involved in an accident in Virginia last year, killing four people and injuring scores more, has been convicted on four felony counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Kin Yiu Cheung, the driver of the bus, was found guilty on all four counts of manslaughter as his trail concluded today in the Caroline County Court. Judge Joseph Ellis found Yiu Cheung’s conduct to be ‘gross and wanton’, with his driving so negligent that the judge had no choice but to convict him of manslaughter.
Testimonies from 15 witnesses called upon by the Caroline County prosecutors in the trial played a crucial role in the judgement, particularly the accounts of a number of passengers who were on board the Sky Express bus when the accident occurred. The bus was travelling from Greensboro, North Carolina, to New York City in May 2011.
According to the passengers, Yiu Cheung was driving erratically and recklessly. They described him repeatedly speeding up and them slamming on brakes, weaving through traffic and coming dangerously close to other vehicles on the Interstate. While the bus was travelling near Richmond on the Interstate 95, the bus veered off the road at high speed, hitting an embankment and overturning, coming to rest on its side.
One passenger, Andrew Jennings, said in his testimony that the experience was ‘like a nightmare’. He says he is haunted by the images of people screaming, the bus flipped over, and being trapped inside the wreckage of the vehicle.
According to a local state trooper who also testified on behalf of the prosecution, Cheung admitted that he had most likely fallen asleep behind the wheel and lost control of the vehicle.
Another witness, Commonwealth’s Attorney Tony Spencer, said that Cheung had a legal obligation to take care of the passengers on his bus, and his erratic driving was a clear violation of this obligation. Spencer’s testimony also placed a crucial role in the case.
Cheung’s legal team, however, said that the bus accident was just that – a ‘horrendous accident’, and that all drivers make occasional errors on the road. His defense centred on the fact that although Cheung may have lost control of the bus, it did not amount to criminal negligence.
Cheung will have to return to court for his sentencing on January 23rd next year. He may be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison on the four charges of manslaughter.