ALBANY, N.Y. — The driver of a bus in a horrific weekend crash that killed 15 people in New York City should not have been able to get behind the wheel because of a driving suspension and several traffic violations, the Associated Press reported Monday, citing two state officials familiar with the investigation of the accident.
Ophadell Williams, 40, was ticketed in 1995 for speeding and twice for driving without a license, giving police the alias of Erik Williams, the officials said. Williams' driving privileges were suspended — meaning he couldn't legally drive in the state — after he failed to address the charges.
The revelations about Williams — a felon with a 20-year-old manslaughter conviction — prompted Gov. Andrew Cuomo to launch a state investigation into how Williams was able to hold a valid commercial driver's license at the time of the crash early Saturday.
Williams also had an incomplete log book, a requirement for commercial drivers, officials said.
Calls to Williams' Brooklyn home were unanswered. A spokesman for the bus company that employed him, World Wide Travel, declined to comment.
A 15th person died Monday in the crash of the bus taking gamblers home from the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut. The bus was sheared in half by a sign pole after overturning.
Investigators have zeroed in on Williams' driving record after his story that his bus with 32 people was clipped by a semitrailer truck fell apart when passengers and witnesses said it never happened.