Chinatown Bus Operator Used Aliases to Run After Deadly Crash, Feds Say

By Patrick Hedlund on June 6, 2011 2:07pm 

The Chrystie Street offices of the Sky Express bus company, which was shut down by the U.S. Department of Transportation last week.
The Chrystie Street offices of the Sky Express bus company, which was shut down by the U.S. Department of Transportation last week.
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DNAinfo/Nguyen Thanh Tuan

By Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo News Editor

MANHATTAN — The bus company whose Chinatown-bound coach crashed in Virginia last week, killing four passengers, tried to continue selling tickets under different names after being shut down.

Sky Express was issued a cease-and-desist order by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for attempting to operate under the names 108 Tours and 108 Bus, the U.S. Department of Transportation said.

The FMCSA also subpoenaed the records of three websites — gotobus.com, taketours.com and 2001bus.com — that have sold tickets for Sky Express, which is based in North Carolina but has an office on Chrystie Street.

The agency also discovered that Sky Express "is repainting, or has repainted, some or all of its vehicles," the cease-and-desist order stated.

The Transportation Department suspended the company from operating long-distance trips last Wednesday, a day after the fatal wreck, citing the carrier's poor safety rating and multiple violations.

But the investigation found it still tried to take paying passengers on trips after being closed down.

"We are relentlessly targeting unsafe and illegal bus companies," said U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement.

"This action sends a strong message that the U.S. Department of Transportation will utilize every legal and enforcement tool available to shut down unsafe bus companies and protect passengers and motorists."

The bus was headed from Virginia to New York City early last Tuesday when it flipped on the I-95 highway near Fredericksburg, Va., killing four female passengers and injuring dozens more.

A report by the National Transportation Safety Board found that the bus crossed into the shoulder along a left-hand curve on the highway, traveling onto a grass embankment and then colliding with a cable barrier.

Virginia state police cited driver fatigue as the reason for the crash, ruling out the possibility of any mechanical malfunction.

Driver Kin Yiu Cheung, 37, of Flushing, Queens, was hit with with four felony counts of involuntary manslaughter during his arraignment last week on reckless driving charges.

Wreckage of the Chinatown-bound bus that crashed in Virginia last week, killing four passengers.
Wreckage of the Chinatown-bound bus that crashed in Virginia last week, killing four passengers.
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Virginia State Police

He is currently being held without bond, and will be arraigned on the manslaughter charges Wednesday.

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