The charter bus driver who killed two people plus himself
when he sped through a red light and into a city bus in Queens was working illegally for his employer, officials said Tuesday.
Raymond Mong, 49, was driving a two-year-old tour bus owned by Flushing-based Dahlia Group Inc., and travelling up to 62 mph at the time of the Monday crash in Flushing that also injured 16 people, officials said.
The Department of Motor Vehicles has “no record” of being notified by Dahlia of Mong’s employment at the bus company as required by state law given his prior arrest for DUI, according to DMV spokeswoman Tiffany Portzer.
“This is an ongoing state and federal investigation and we cannot comment further,” Portzer said.
Before Mong crashed the Dahlia tour bus into a Q20 bus packed with riders, he was arrested for drunkenly causing a three-car crash in Connecticut in 2015.
Police records show Mong was behind the wheel of a 2002 Honda on April 10, 2015 when he caused the chain car crash on the Exit-51 off-ramp from southbound I-95 and fled.
State police later found Mong and arrested him on several charges including operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The DUI bust cost Mong his job as a bus driver for the MTA, where he worked for several years before Dahlia, according to sources.
Meanwhile, Robert Accetta of the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the crash, said Tuesday at a press conference that investigators determined through a surveillance video of the wreck that the tour bus was travelling between 54 and 62 mph. The speed limit in that area is 30 mph.
Accetta said that the agency does not have a cause of the crash yet and that the on-scene investigation will last between 6 and 10 days.
“Throughout the next few days our investigators will work on scene to thoroughly document the accident site and gather factual information,” Accetta said. “Our mission is to understand not just what happened, but why it happened and to recommend changes to prevent it from happening again.”
Authorities are awaiting toxicology tests to determine if Mong was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.
Investigators are also probing whether driver fatigue played a role in the deadly wreck.
According to Accetta, Mong was properly licensed in the state of New York and had a valid medical certificate.
Investigators are also looking at records from the tour bus company involving driver’s logs, vehicle inspections and maintenance and operating procedures as well as a GPS device found in the commercial bus driven by Mong.
Dahlia has been cooperative with officials, said Accetta.