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Bus Line in Fatal Flushing Crash Has Deadly History, Records Show

By  Aidan Gardiner and Janon Fisher | September 18, 2017 5:46pm 

 Three people died when a Dahlia bus crashed into an MTA bus in Flushing Monday Sept. 18, 2017.
Three people died when a Dahlia bus crashed into an MTA bus in Flushing Monday Sept. 18, 2017.
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DNAinfo/Trevor Kapp

NEW YORK — Olga Cortes was on her way to Mohegan Sun casino last February to celebrate her 56th birthday.

She never made it.

On Feb. 8, 2016, the bus she was on, which was owned Dahlia Groupthe same company that owned the bus involved in Monday's deadly crash in Queens — lost control on Interstate-95 and rolled off the highway, leaving Cortes fatally injured.

The middle-aged nanny from Queens suffered fractures throughout her upper body.

"She couldn't move," the lawyer handling her estate, Michael Colon, said. "An embolism developed because of her injuries."

After a month in the hospital, she died, the lawyer said.

Before Monday's crash, which killed three people and injured 16 more, this was just the most recent, but not the only, fatal accident for the casino bus company.

In 2003, an Atlantic City-bound Dahlia bus flipped over on the Garden State Parkway, killing two people and injuring 28, according to The New York Times. The bus had been headed to the Taj Mahal, a casino owned by Donald Trump, the newspaper reported.

Perhaps the most bizarre incident happened on Oct. 14, 2014 after an unscheduled passenger pickup in Chinatown.

The Dahlia bus was again headed to Connecticut's Mohegan Sun, when it made an unscheduled stop to pick up Hua Jian Ye, whose blood alcohol level was about .014 percent, officials said.

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.

Chan sued Dahlia for negligence and the trial is stalled because the bus company has yet to hand over their driver's deposition, Cares said.

"Dahlia, it's our claim, didn't adequately protect its passengers," Cates said.

"It made an unscheduled stop and let this unscreened passenger on the bus. The bus just pulled over and let him on where it had never done that before. They didn't evaluate or screen this passenger in any way. The driver wasn't trained to handle this in any way," Cates said.

The company was again cited in September 2015 for speeding, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

On Feb. 6, 2016, the company was fined again when one of its buses was caught speeding and then improperly passed another vehicle, records show.

Two days later, Olga Cortes's bus flipped over on a snowy highway New Haven, injuring 36 other people, records show.

On Dec. 26, 2016, federal officials cited the company for illegally parking one of its buses in the road, records show.

Feds cited the company three times so far in 2017, including twice for speeding and once for disobeying a traffic device, records show.

It wasn't immediately clear if the company would face any violations in the Monday crash.

The NYPD said its investigation is ongoing.

The driver, Raymond Mong, who was killed in the crash, had worked for the MTA until he was fired in 2015, an transit spokesman said.

"I feel terrible for the people involved," Cares said about the Monday crash.

"From our perspective, it seems like they don't do enough to train their drivers," she added.

Dahlia staff repeatedly refused to comment Monday.