Free Lance-Star reporter Robyn Sidersky covers Caroline County government and schools. You can reach her at 540/374-5413 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow coverage on Facebook or Twitter as well.
New court date set in fatal crash
A new court date has been set for the Sky Express bus driver charged in a fatal crash that left four passengers dead.
Kin Yiu Cheung, 37, did not appear in Caroline County Circuit Court Wednesday, but a judge agreed with attorneys to continue the case until May 2 for a status hearing.
The Elmhurst, N.Y. man is facing four counts of Involuntary manslaughter.
Sky Express bus dispatcher Zhao Jian Chen of Greensboro, N.C. is facing the same charges. He waived extradition in North Carolina on March 1 and Virginia authorities have until Saturday to pick him up and bring him to Virginia before being released.
Caroline Commonwealth’s Attorney Tony Spencer said he expects Chen to make his first court appearance in Caroline on March 14.
Cheung, who speaks Mandarin Chinese and limited English, told state police that he was tired and dozed off and then fell asleep on the morning of May 31 when Sky Express bus No. 386 overturned on Interstate 95 in Caroline County, according to court documents.
According to Spencer, Cheung told Chen he was too tired to drive that day, but Chen ordered him to drive anyway.
When he woke up, the court document said, he turned the bus hard to the left. The bus ran off the right side of the highway near the Carmel Church exit, hit an embankment and overturned, landing on its roof.
State police spokeswoman Corrine Geller said fatigue was a factor in the crash and speed is what made the bus flip over. The speed limit in the crash area is 70 miles per hour.
Of the 58 passengers aboard the bus, 53 were taken to 11 hospitals across the state.
Killed in the crash were Karen Blyden-Decastro, 46, of Cambria Heights, N.Y.; Sie Giok Giang, 63, of Philadelphia; Josefa Torres, 78, of Jamaica, N.Y.; and Denny Estefany Martinez, 25, of Jersey City, N.J.
Spencer said the investigation revealed that it was a standard practice at Sky Express to put drivers who are too tired to drive behind the wheel of buses loaded with passengers.
According to federal court documents, Cheung has ties to a Brooklyn couple who are accused of running an operation that helped unqualified bus and truck drivers get licenses.
It is unclear if Cheung received his commercial driver’s licenses fraudulently, but he did receive his CDL shortly after passing a road test with a vehicle registered to N&Y Professional Service Line, which recently had its business license suspended while it is being investogated for fraud for helping drivers cheat on the written test.