I-95 Ride of Terror Claims 4 Lives in Virginia

By KEITH UPCHURCH DURHAM — A 21-year-old Chapel Hill man who was a passenger on a bus that overturned in Virginia early Tuesday said “everybody started screaming” when the bus started shaking and went out of control on the interstate. Four women died in the single-vehicle accident and others were injured. The bus included at least two Chapel Hill residents and others from Triangle, possibly Durham. A spokesman at the Carolina County, Va., emergency operations center said late Tuesday night that the victims of the crash had not been identified and likely would not be identified until this afternoon at the earliest. Asked if the condition of the bodies had anything to do with the delay, the spokesman refused to comment further, saying, “It is what it is.” The Associated Press said the bus originated in Greensboro Monday night. According to the company’s website, it then departed Raleigh at 12:30 a.m. and Durham at 1 a.m. Tuesday and was headed to Chinatown in New York City with 59 people aboard. Benton Allen said he and a friend, Riley Zecca, 21, also from Chapel Hill, were on their way to New York City when the horror began about 5 a.m. on Interstate 95 in Bowling Green, Va., about 30 miles north of Richmond. “A lot of people woke up as the bus started shaking and leaving the highway,” he said. “We ran into a few signs, and then everybody started screaming. And then the bus just flipped. I remembered, like, just a strange feeling of kind of being suspended in the air and rolling around and around. And all these other people were rolling around and around me too.” Allen said that all the passengers who could leave the bus did so, then returned to help the injured get out. Allen escaped serious injury. “Aside from little pieces of glass and little cuts and stuff like that, I walked away perfectly fine,” he said. “I don’t know how.” He said his friend was injured more seriously, but “he’s going to be OK.” “The right side of his face was caked with blood,” Allen said. “He was pretty freaked out by it, but he was in good shape, considering.” Allen said he learned about the four deaths during the aftermath. “Four people dying — that’s a lot,” he said. “But based on the severity of the crash, I expected it to be more.” Allen said he was taken to a hospital and then picked up by his aunt who lives in Fredericksburg, where he was staying Tuesday evening. Meanwhile, the SkyExpress bus driver, 37-year-old Kin Yiu Cheung of Flushing, N.Y., faces a reckless driving charge, and police say fatigue was a factor in the crash. Fifty-four people were taken to area hospitals and treated for minor to severe injuries, the Associated Press reported. There were 59 people on board. AP also reported that the Charlotte-based bus company has a record of safety problems and has been involved in several accidents in the past two years. It also has been cited for 46 violations of drivers being fatigued over that same time. SkyExpress offers $30 bus trips between New York and 15 cities in North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The company offered condolences to the families of the four women killed, and said it would cooperate fully in the investigation, which includes the National Transportation Board. “This is the first serious accident involving any of [our] buses,” SkyExpress said in a statement. “The bus driver has never before been involved in an accident.” SkyExpress could not be reached Tuesday for information about how many passengers were from the Durham and Chapel Hill area. It has no listed phone number at its Charlotte office. Trips are booked online. Allen said that after the accident, he overheard people saying that the driver “was chugging Red Bulls [energy drinks] at rest stops. I had people saying that left and right.” As for Allen’s plans to visit New York, the crash has left that uncertain. “I’m a little bit shell shocked,” he said. Read more: The Herald-Sun – I 95 ride of terror claims 4 lives

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