The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Limits eased on driver in fatal bus crash
BY PORTSIA SMITH
The Sky Express bus driver charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter is free to leave Virginia.
Kin Yiu Cheung, 38, had been out of jail and in an electronic incarceration program, but Caroline County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Ellis this week ordered that he be removed from it.
The order, filed on Wednesday, also called for Cheung to be allowed to leave the state and no longer be supervised.
The decision came on a joint motion by Commonwealth’s Attorney Tony Spencer and Defense Attorney Taylor Stone on the same day Cheung’s trial date was continued to Nov. 8. A one-day trial had been scheduled for June 25.
There was no reason given for the changes other than “for good cause shown.”
The Elmhurst, N.Y., man, 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, 2011 when Sky Express bus No. 386 overturned on Interstate 95 in Caroline County, according to court documents.
According to documents recently released by the National Transportation Safety Board, Cheung told Sky Eexpress bus dispatcher Zhao Jian Chen that he was too tired to drive that day, but Chen ordered him to drive anyway.
When he woke up, the documents 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.
Virginia 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 New York-bound 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.
Chen, although he was not driving, is also charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter.
His trial is scheduled for Oct. 30.
Spencer has said that 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 and the fact that Chen ordered Cheung to drive that day makes him “an accessory before the fact, which makes him just as liable as the driver.”
Due to overwhelming media attention and a request by the defense, Ellis imposed a gag order on this case in March to ensure Chen and Cheung get a fair trial. So, neither attorneys are allowed to discuss the case outside of court.
Portsia Smith: 540/374-5419