TICKER: Trial begins for bus driver who killed 15 after falling asleep at the wheel

Ophadell Williams is now on trial for his life.   The bus driver is being charged for his role in a crash that killed 15 people when he fell asleep at the wheel.  The driver is accused of having stayed up late and spending time going out when he should have been resting instead.

According to cell phone records being used the prosecution, Williams “was supposed to be sleeping during daytime hours, he was in various parts of the city and Nassau (County),” this according to Assistant District Attorney Gary Weil.

“The evidence will show that he fell asleep or was so fatigued he could no longer pay attention to what was happening,” Weil said. “He knew the risks of driving while fatigued and ignored those risks and, as a result, 15 people died.”

Williams is arguing that he didn’t fall asleep at the wheel and that he had plenty of rest.  Instead, his attorneys argue that the accident was caused when he was cut off by a truck on I-95.

“He had as much sleep as many other people routinely have,” defense attorney Patrick Bruno. “I don’t see the sleeping as an issue.”

The accident took place as the group was driving back to New York City after a night at a casino in Connecticut.

“They died instantly in a horrible crash caused by the reckless and criminally negligent behavior of that man,” Weil said in court.  “The evidence you will hear will prove that this was no mere tragic accident, but a criminal act.”

Prosecutors say that at the time of the accident, Williams was driving 28 mph over the speed limit.  They also cite Williams as a man having a reckless driving record.   But his attorneys paint a different picture of the man.

“He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t smoke. He doesn’t do drugs,” Bruno said. “He just tries to bring home a check for his family.”

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