Ophadell Williams Acquitted on All Felony Charges in Fatal New York Bus Crash

Ophadell Williams, a bus driver accused of being so tired that he caused a crash that killed 15 passengers, got a Christmas present of a lifetime. He was found not guilty on all felony charges by a jury on Friday, essentially underscoring the difficulty in prosecuting so-called drowsy driving cases, the New York Times reports.

The driver, Ophadell Williams, was returning to Chinatown from an overnight trip to the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut in March 2011 when his bus struck a guardrail on Interstate 95 near the Bronx-Westchester border, flipped over, and smashed into a signpost with enough force to shear off part of the roof. The crash — one of the deadliest in the city’s history — also injured many other passengers, including one man whose arms were torn off as he tried to shield his face.

After nearly two weeks of deliberations, the jury in State Supreme Court in the Bronx acquitted Mr. Williams of 53 of 54 charges, the most serious of which were criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter. He was found guilty on a single charge of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, a misdemeanor.

Mr. Williams, 41, showed visible relief as the verdict was being announced in the courtroom, at times wiping his eyes and putting his face in his hands. He has been in prison since September 2011 after he was unable to post a $250,000 bail — including Thursday night after the jury reached a verdict but the judge overseeing the case said there was no time to announce it. Source