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Queens Chronicle

Sleepy bus driver guilty in fatal crash

Flushing resident faces 40 years for four manslaughter convictions

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Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 11:36 am, Wed Nov 21, 2012.

Kin Yui Cheung, a bus driver from Flushing, was convicted on Thursday of involuntary manslaughter for falling asleep at the wheel in a 2011 bus crash in Virginia that left four dead and 50 others injured.

Cheung faces up to 40 years in prison for being found guilty on all four counts of involuntary manslaughter, published reports said. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 23.

Two Queens residents, Karen Blyden-Decastro, 46, and Josefa Torres, 78, were among those who died.

Caroline County Circuit Judge Joseph Ellis reportedly described Cheung’s behavior as “so gross and wanton” he had no choice but to find him guilty.

The 38-year-old driver erratically drove a discount Chinatown-bound Sky Express bus down Interstate 95 near Richmond, Va. on May 31.

Survivors of the crash reportedly testified the bus swerved before slamming into an embankment and flipping.

Cheung claimed he tried to fight off exhaustion with coffee and Red Bull, and reportedly told police he was tired and sleepy.

His defense attorney, Taylor Stone, said Cheung told investigators he slept for six hours before the 11 p.m. drive from Greensboro, NC to Chinatown. The bus crash was a “horrendous accident,” and not the result of negligence, said Stone, who called no witnesses to testify on his client’s behalf.

The National Transportation Safety Board said driver fatigue was the likely cause of the accident.

Prosecutors dropped four manslaughter charges against Zhao Jian Chen last week, after initial claims the bus dispatcher told Cheung to continue driving were debunked.

Sky Express is one of several low-fare curbside bus companies investigated and shuttered by the NTSB, with ultimately two dozen shut down in June 2011.

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