PRINCE GEORGE, VA (WWBT) - The driver of a bus involved in a fatal crash on I-95 has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Yui Man Chow, 40, of Staten Island, NY, was released on bond March 20 after being incarcerated at Riverside Regional Jail in Prince George County. He is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the incident.
The victims in the crash on northbound I-95 near Crater Road were identified as 81-year-old Janetta Cumberbatch of Jamaica, New York, and 37-year-old Su Feng Xu, a Chinese national. His address is not known.
Multiple rescue units were called to the scene just before 5:30 a.m. March 19.
Virginia State Police said the bus, operated by Tao’s Travel Inc., had 57 people on board - 56 passengers and the driver. The driver was attempting to take the exit ramp and ran off the left side of the road and overturned.
Chow is due in Prince George County General District Court on March 25 for his arraignment.
“Just seeing it tumble like that and knowing what kind of vehicle it was, yeah it kind of took me back a little bit,” said gas station employee Evan Varvour.
The Shell gas station located off exit 45 captured the crash on its surveillance cameras showing the commercial bus doing at least two full rotations before landing on its side in the ditch. Managers did not release the video out of respect for the two victims killed in the crash and dozens of others injured.
“Our heart goes out to those who were affected by this incident," said Prince George Co. Fire & EMS Director Brad Owens. "We keep them in our thoughts and prayers and make sure we’ll do everything we can to get them reconnected.”
Police said the bus route began in Orlando, Florida and was headed to New York.
Police said speed is considered a causative factor in the crash based on the preliminary investigation, however they continue to look at all aspects, including weather.
Woody Rackley, a longtime bus driver who now lives in Prince George, said overnight driving can have severe consequences, and the weather in the area probably didn’t help.
“If it hadn’t been foggy I think he’d be okay,” Rackley said.
According to police it’s still unknown why the bus was getting off at the exit, but they have some leads.
“I’m hearing there’s a possibility they may have thought they were taking the 295 exit,” said Virginia State Police Sgt. Keeli Hill.
It’s a situation locals added happens all the time given the number of I-295 signs near this exit in particular.
“But it’s really the next exit," Varvour said. "So people think they’re going from interstate to interstate and the stop sign just kind of runs up on them.”
More than 50 people, ranging from toddlers to adults, were injured and taken to area hospitals.
HCA confirmed the following number of patients were treated at the following hospitals:
- Johnston Willis – 14 patients
- Chippenham – 14 patients
- John Randolph – 3 patients
- Swift Creek ER – 1 patient
- Tri-Cities ER – 1 patient
Family members looking for information about patients at those hospitals can call 800-230-6977.
Southside Regional Medical Center received a total of nine patients; six men, three women, one of whom had died before arriving.
“Four remain here for further treatment or observation, two have been treated and released, and two have been transferred to facilities with a higher level of care,” said spokesman Brandon Seier.
VCU Medical Center officials confirmed that they treated a dozen patients.
Family members can call the Prince George County Emergency Services Center at 804-733-2659 for information related to those on the bus. A Family Reunification Center was established in Prince George at the county’s Central Wellness Center at 11023 Prince George Drive in Disputanta.
State police said the bus had stopped in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, to switch drivers and was headed to its final destination in New York when it crashed. Chow boarded the bus in North Carolina.
Online records from the U.S. Department of Transportation show that Tao’s Travel Inc. is based in Middleton, Massachusetts. It has been in business for six years as of March 18.
The company has four vehicles with eight drivers and has had no major crashes.
In the past two years, the company has had minor violations, such as “no or defective bus emergency exit windows,” “improper Exhaust-bus (diesel),” “inspection, repair and maintenance of parts and accessories” and one “oil and/or gas leak," according to USDOT information.
Tao’s was last inspected in September.
Copyright 2019 WWBT. All rights reserved.