3 people died and 16 suffered injury in a bus accident that occurred in Queens, NYC, last week. Around 6:00 am last Monday, 49-year-old Raymond Mong was driving an empty charter bus owned by the Dahlia tour company when he ran a red light and crashed into a MTA bus in Flushing. The crash occurred at the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Main Street. Footage from a security camera shows the Dahlia bus recklessly speeding through the intersection and crashing into the MTA bus which was making a right turn from Main street onto Northern Boulevard.
The bus driver, Raymond Mong, died in the accident as well as a pedestrian (68 year old Henry Wdowiak) and a MTA bus rider (55 year old Gregory Liljefors). Among the 16 other people who were injured in the accident, five of them were still hospitalized with 3 of them in critical condition. According to the most recent results of the investigation, Mong drove through the intersection at a speed of 58 mph. The maximum speed limit in the city is 25 mph.
Raymond Mong was arrested in October 2015 in Connecticut and charged with DUI after he crashed his wife’s car onto another car and fled the scene of the accident that he had caused on Interstate 95. He received 18 months probation. At the time he was a MTA bus driver. The MTA fired him after they heard about the accident and the arrest.
Raymond Mong then got hired illegally by the Dahlia Group, a budget charter bus company with a grisly past (see previous blog). In the past the bus company was involved in two other fatal traffic accidents while driving gamblers to casinos.
Last week’s accident illustrates the weakness in regulations for charter bus companies in New York. New York State Officials when asked why Mong was back on the road as a bus driver replied that they were not aware that Dahlia had hired him because the company neglected to notify the DMV as required by law. Additionally the Transportation Safety Board wasn’t able to provide any information as the route of the bus so far. Charter bus companies are supposedly required to apply for a permit for the curbside locations they want to use but according to city records Dahlia didn’t have a permit.
Dahlia is not the only bus company operating illegally. According to Assemblyman Ron Kim, the streets of Flushing are mobbed with private charter bus companies of all kinds, competing with city buses. A crackdown is necessary. Unfortunately reckless bus accidents are occurring on a regular basis not only in New York but all over the country. Every time elected officials plead for more regulations and crackdowns, authorities continue to turn a blind eye on unsafe bus companies. In Manhattan for example, Yep Tour continues to operate despite having been hit with 210 safety violations over the last 2 years. The company who picks up passengers in Chinatown has accumulated a giant amount of fines and clearly disregards the law. Despite calls from elected official to shut down the company, the city of New York continues to issue permits to Yep Tour.
Read more in the New York Times