On Friday, December 7, the jury in the trial of Ophadell Williams announced its verdict: Williams was guilty of just one misdemeanor charge for unpaid tickets. He was acquitted of 53 other charges relating to a fatal bus crash that occurred outside New York City last year.
Williams was driving an overnight run from Mohegan Sun, a casino located in Connecticut, back to Chinatown in New York City, with 32 passengers on board. On Interstate 95 in the Bronx, just miles from the bus's destination, it hit a guard rail and flipped onto its side. As the bus slid along the guard rail, it hit a pole on the side of the highway, which ripped the roof of the vehicle open nearly end-to-end.
Fifteen of the passengers died in the crash and a number of others suffered serious injuries.
Prosecutors brought manslaughter and other criminal charges against Williams, alleging that he had been "too drowsy" to drive the bus and was therefore responsible for the crash. No alcohol or drugs were found in Williams' system, however, attorneys argued that sleep deprivation had resulted in similar effects to the driver's reaction time and driving ability.
Several states have attempted this tactic, bringing criminal charges against alleged drowsy drivers, with varying degrees of success.
The New York Times reported that last month, a bus driver was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in a similar accident in Virginia where four people were killed.
No such cases in New Hampshire were referenced in the media's coverage of the verdicts. However, the prosecutorial trend seems to be gaining ground. If you have been accused of a crime like manslaughter following an accident, be sure you consult an expert New Hampshire criminal lawyer. These professionals can defend you in court and ensure that you receive fair consideration.