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Criminal Charges Brought in Last Week's Fatal Bus Accident

On the heels of the tragic New York tour bus crash earlier this year, came another fatal bus crash in Virginia just over a week ago. On this past Friday, the 37-year-old bus driver was charged with four criminal counts of involuntary manslaughter.

The Sky Express bus left North Carolina in the evening hours of Memorial Day, headed toward New York City. Fifty-nine people were on board, including the driving. Around 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, while traveling on Interstate 95, the bus swerved off the road, hit an embankment and overturned.

Dozens of passengers were injured and four were killed in the bus crash. Initially, the driver was only charged with a misdemeanor reckless driving charge, but when he appeared in court on Friday morning he was charged with four additional felony counts.

Law enforcement officials believe that the driver was fatigued, and had possibly fallen asleep at the wheel, when the bus went off the road. Public records show previous traffic violations for the bus driver, including convictions for speeding, following too closely and failing to obey a traffic sign.

The U.S. Department of Transportation immediately shut down the Sky Express bus company following the accident. Records maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that Sky Express has had four serious bus accidents over the last two years. Additionally, the company had been cited for 46 times for driver fatigue during the same time period.

So far no civil claims, such as wrongful death lawsuits, have been filed by the families of the deceased passengers. However, pending results of the investigation, it is likely that a number of personal injury claims will be filed against the bus company.

Source: The Houston Chronicle, "New charges against driver in fatal Va. bus crash," 6/3/11.

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