Jury clears bus driver of manslaughter charges in fatal Bronx crash

NEW YORK Fri Dec 7, 2012 11:52am EST

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NEW YORK Dec 7 (Reuters) - Jurors on Friday said they cleared New York bus driver Ophadell Williams of all counts except unlicensed driving in the deadly Bronx crash that killed 15 passengers.

The verdict, reached on Thursday but not read until Friday in a highly unusual legal move, came in the second week of deliberations at the manslaughter trial of Williams, 41, of Brooklyn in state Supreme Court in the Bronx.

The horrific predawn crash on Interstate 95 in March 2011 triggered a federal and state crackdown on bus operators, including proposed tough new measures to fit vehicles with speed-limiting devices and to require companies to get 10 years of driving records from potential employees.

Prosecutors said Williams, whose driving record included 18 suspensions over two decades, was overly tired when his speeding bus hit a guardrail, flipped onto its side and skidded into a highway sign support pole, sheering off the roof. Of the 32 passengers aboard, 15 died and 15 were injured, some severely.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Paul Thomasch)

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