Witnesses and officials say that the driver of a bus that crashed into a home in Rego Park, NY on the afternoon of Monday, August 24th, was trying to avoid another vehicle.
The private casino bus was shuttling passengers to Resorts World Casino in South Ozone Park when an SUV reportedly swerved in front of the bus to make a right-hand turn. The driver was unable to avoid the car and swerved into a nearby building located at 87-17 63rd Ave., near Woodhaven Boulevard, at approximately 2:24 p.m
The bus was operated by the Brooklyn-based Trans Express, Inc., and was part of a free transportation program called the “Red Express.” Trans Express has been recorded as both cooperating with local authorities and conducting their own investigation of the accident.
Four people aboard the bus, as well as the bus driver and the woman who had been inside the building at the time of the crash, were taken to local hospitals for treatment. There were at least two other people on scene with minor injuries who refused to be transported.
The bus driver in particular sustained serious injuries, and was removed from the bus using the jaws of life. There were no emergency exits on the bus, leaving passengers trapped inside while they waited for help to arrive.
One neighbor, Daniel Kimyagarov, age 16, brought a ladder from a house next door to the accident to help passengers escape from the bus. Kimyagarov reported that all of the passengers appeared to be elderly. Another witness, Ravendra Persaud, 19, also helped remove passengers from the bus.
According to several witness accounts, such as the one from AnnMarie Constantinides who witnessed the crash, the driver swerved to avoid a car that cut in front of the bus, causing the crash.
Both the bus driver and the driver of the other car have been issued summons.
Witnesses state that both vehicles were traveling rather fast, and that neither seemed to slow down immediately before the accident occurred. However, most witnesses stated that the bus driver seemed to do everything in his power to avoid the accident.
The bus was removed from the scene of the accident on Monday night, but the damage to the three story office building remains. The FDNY prevented the building from collapsing further after the accident by propping it up with two-by-fours.
The driver of the SUV, a 37-year-old from King of Prussia, PA, stated that the accident was not his fault. Despite multiple witness reports that the grey Scion swerved in front of the bus, the driver asserts that he was simply attempting to turn onto 63rd Avenue when the bus collided with his vehicle. The driver of the Scion was not injured, and has been recorded as stating, “I feel very sad for the people on the bus. I didn’t want to hurt anybody.”