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Bus company in fatal N.J. crash flagged for safety violations

/ Source: The Associated Press

The tour bus company involved in a fatal crash on the New Jersey Turnpike had been flagged by safety officials for extra scrutiny due to a higher than average number of violations, federal records show.

The bus, operated by Super Luxury Tours Inc., of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., crashed Monday night as it traveled from New York City's Chinatown to Philadelphia, killing the driver and a passenger and injuring several others.

Super Luxury Tours was identified in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's database as having a higher than average number of violations for unsafe driving, including nine tickets in the past two years for speeding, improper passing and failure to obey traffic control devices.

The company has also been cited repeatedly in the past two years for having drivers who don't speak English. The FMCSA listed its vehicles as being involved in three accidents in 2010.

A message left at a phone listing for the company, which is listed as having just one bus and two drivers, was not returned Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, state police on Tuesday continued examining the wreckage of the bus to try to figure out why it crashed.

The one-vehicle crash on the turnpike — one of the nation's most heavily trafficked highways — happened just days after a bus from a Connecticut casino crashed as it was returning to New York City's Chinatown neighborhood, killing 15 people.

In Monday's accident, driver Wei Wang, a 50-year-old Taiwanese national who lived in Forest Hills, N.Y., was thrown through the windshield, and several passengers were badly injured, state police Sgt. Stephen Jones said.

Passenger Troy Nguyen, 20, of Royersford, Pa., died after being transported to a hospital in New Brunswick. Police said Nguyen had been partially ejected from a driver's side window.

Forty-one other passengers were sent to hospitals. Louis Pierre, 50, of Philadelphia and 70-year-old David Choi, of Lansdale, Pa., were in critical condition, Jones said. They are believed to have been sitting in the rear of the bus, police said.

State police weren't sure how many other passengers remained hospitalized as of Tuesday.

Preliminary evidence suggested the bus had been traveling south on the turnpike at around 9 p.m. Monday when the crash occurred just south of Exit 9 in East Brunswick, about 40 miles southwest of Manhattan. The vehicle went off the road onto the grassy median before striking a concrete overpass support, Jones said.

The white bus came to a stop at an angle, its damaged front section pointed off the highway and onto the median.

The cause of the crash hadn't been determined, and the investigation could take several weeks. The medical examiner's office will perform an autopsy on the driver to determine if he suffered any medical issue prior to the crash.

The bus was moved to an impound lot, where state police said it would be inspected and all available data would be taken from its electronic components.