All charges dropped against dispatcher in deadly I-95 bus crash

Posted at 11:15 AM, Oct 30, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-30 17:37:26-04

CAROLINE COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) – All charges have been dropped against Zhao Jian Chen, the bus dispatcher accused of forcing a bus driver to continue on his route despite complaining of fatigue.

Four people died in that accident and over fifty people were injured.

“He was charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, all four of them were dismissed meaning the charges are withdrawn and can’t be rebrought – it’s over,” Ted Bruns, Chen’s lawyer, told CBS 6.

According to Bruns an individual came forward corroborating Chen’s story that he never forced the driver, Kin Yiu Cheung,  to get behind the wheel. 

Cheung had claimed he told Chen that he was too tired to drive the bus, but that he believed he would be fired if he did not drive. 

“First Cheung crashed the bus and then he threw Chen under the bus,” Bruns said.

Additionally, Cheung’s trial is scheduled to begin next week. Chen has now been subpoenaed to testify.

Stephen Story, President of James River Bus Company, says regardless of the charges being dropped, the case has already changed the industry.

“After the accident the industry has woken up and begun addressing a lot of the issues,” Story said.

Story says that includes seat belts on all new buses, stricter laws on when drivers can drive, and better communication with dispatchers.

As for Mr. Chen, the ordeal has resulted in him already serving months in jail and potential deportation.

“His ability to secure citizenship in the US which is is something he desperately wants to do has been severely compromised,” Bruns said.

CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said there is little Chen can do to recoup his losses under the law.

“This is one of the problems with our system,” Stone said.

“There is really no effective legal recourse for that you can’t get your expenses covered,” Stone reported. 

In May of 2011, a Sky Express bus ran off I-95 in Caroline County while driving from North Carolina to New York, killing four passengers.

Images from the scene of the crashes showed the mangled bus, which had landed on its roof, with numerous gouges on its left side. Inside the bus crushed seats and bowed components were just some of the damage present. 

Regulators shut down the bus company after the crash, but it began operating under a new name days after the crash. Additionally, regulators shutdown 26 other discount carriers on the one-year anniversary of the crash last week.

The bus driver, Kin Yiu Cheung, faces four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one charge for passenger who died in the crash.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Sky Express bus crashes on I-95