A fatal bus crash occurred early yesterday morning in Flushing, Queens, which killed three and injured 16. A deeper investigation into the bus line involved, Dahlia Travel and Tours, reveals a troubling history of fatal accidents and questionable practices.
Just after 6 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 18, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus and a Dahlia private tour bus collided at the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Main Street, reports Gothamist. As a result of the crash, the Dahlia bus went careening into a Kennedy Fried Chicken restaurant and other businesses along Northern Boulevard.
A New York Police Department confirmed that the Dahlia driver, a pedestrian on the sidewalk and one other MTA bus passenger were killed, according to Gothamist. Sixteen others were injured and “are critical and are fighting for their lives right now,” NYC Mayor de Blasio told reporters.
Security camera footage of the crash shows the MTA bus making a right. The the Dahlia bus comes up from the rear and slams into it with such force that the city bus is spun around.
Sources told NY1 that the Dahlia bus ran a red light. At a press conference, however, the mayor said that it was too early to draw any conclusions, according to Gothamist.
This isn’t the first time that buses belonging to private bus company, Dahlia Travel and Tours, have crashed. Records compiled and reported on by DNAinfo show a history of fatal crashes.
In 2003, the New York Times reported on a Dahlia bus, traveling from Manhattan’s Chinatown to Atlantic City, spun off the Garden State Parkway, flipped onto its side on an embankment, killing two and injuring 28.
In 2014, a truly bizarre case happened during a Dahlia trip to Connecticut resort and casino, Mohegan Sun. The bus made an “unscheduled passenger pickup,” stopping for Hua Jian Ye, who had a blood alcohol level of about .014. The events, according to DNAinfo, were as follows:
The bus was rolling along I-95 through New Haven when Ye started pacing up and down the bus, shining a light from his cellphone onto the 19 other passengers, who became angry and told him to stop, according to a report by the Connecticut attorney general.
He then pulled a box cutter and slashed the face of Meici Chan “for reasons not determined,” the state’s top prosecutor said.
Randy Chan, who’d spent less than a year enlisted in the U.S. military, then grabbed Ye to bring him to the front of the bus, according to the report and Chan’s attorney.
The bus driver pulled over and opened his door, sending Chan and Ye tumbling onto the Connecticut asphalt, the report said.
Connecticut State Trooper Marc Omara told Ye — who was still trying to attack Chan — to drop the blade before opening fire, hitting Chan in the right leg, the report said.
Both men fell to the ground, but while Chan rolled toward the bus and safety, Ye stood up in the middle lane of traffic and lunged toward Omara, who again opened fire, the report said.
Ye repeatedly fell to the ground and got up again as Omara kept shooting, ultimately emptying two clips of ammunition, the report said.
At one point, Ye “began to scrape at his own eyes with the box cutter,” the attorney general said.
Ye died in the clash and Chan, who works as a jewelry maker, was forced into a wheelchair, according to his attorney, Brittany Cates.
In 2016, one of Dahlia’s buses was found speeding and improperly passing another vehicle. The company was fined.
Just two days after, another Dahlia bus traveling on Interstate 95 lost control and rolled off the highway, fatally injuring one passenger.
In December of that year, Dahlia was cited by the feds because of an illegally parked bus in the road.
So far this year, DNAinfo reports that feds have cited Dahlia three times for speeding and disobeying a traffic device.
Raymond Mong, the driver fatally involved in the most recent Flushing crash, was an MTA employee until his termination in 2015, reports the New York Times. He had crashed his sedan into two other cars on Interstate 95 and then fled the scene of the accident. Mong had “received a suspended jail sentence and was placed on probation for 18 months after being convicted of driving under the influence and evading arrest.”
A photograph published by the New York Post shows the bus’s speedometer stuck at 60 mph—over twice the city speed limit of 25—after the crash.
The investigation is ongoing.