A bus making its way back to New York City from the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Connecticut crashed early Saturday morning in the Bronx, killing 15 and injuring 18. The exact cause of the crash remains unclear, as authorities investigate the possibility of a tractor trailer being involved. Some of the crash victims told reporters they felt the bus hit rumble strips along the shoulder of the road seconds before the crash, implying the driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel.
The fatal accident occurred on Interstate 95 at around 5:30 a.m. across the Bronx line from Westchester County. First responders reported a scene of utter mayhem with the top of the bus completely dislodged from the passenger cabin and twisted steel strewn along the highway. Authorities say the bus overturned at a high rate of speed and ejected many passengers from the vehicle. Six of the injured were taken to nearby hospitals in critical condition.
The bus driver, who was hospitalized with a broken hip, told investigators the bus was clipped by a tractor trailer. At an evening news conference on Saturday, a major with the state police told reporters that law enforcement had seized a trailer on Long Island and a tractor in Westchester County, and were in the process of determining if they clipped the bus.
The crash brings to light a burgeoning subculture of overnight gamblers that take cheap buses to casinos in Connecticut or New Jersey, try their luck at the tables or at slot machines for a few hours, then get back on the bus and sleep on their journey back to Manhattan in the hours before dawn. The casinos offer packages to customers, usually elder citizens, consisting of free food vouchers and cheap bus fare. These trips, which begin in the afternoon and culminate the next morning, usually employ one bus driver to handle long shifts without much sleep.
The bus that crashed early Saturday morning had a 'World Wide Tours' logo emblazoned on the bus' front end. This accident represents the fourth accident by the same company in as many years, according to federal records.
This recent bus crash has renewed the much needed scrutiny that is needed to examine more thoroughly the management and operation of such low-cost tour-bus services, where bus drivers often work for low wages and long hours.