Congresswoman Grace Meng was in contact with the National Transportation Safety Board immediately following the accident. Shortly thereafter, the agency announced that it would conduct a full investigation into the incident.
“I am devastated by the crash,” said Meng. “NTSB’s accident report will help determine the cause of the crash and how to prevent tragedies like this from occurring in the future.”
At 6:15 a.m., a Q20 bus carrying 15 people was turning right onto Northern Boulevard from Main Street when a bus operated by Dahlia Travel and Tours traveling east on Northern Boulevard hit it.
The force of the impact spun the MTA bus around, while the Dahlia bus crashed into Kennedy Fried Chicken and T-Mobile store, causing a small fire.
A 68-year-old pedestrian, Henry Wdowiak, was killed, as was the driver of the Dahlia bus and Gregory Liljefors, a 55-year-old man who was a passenger on the MTA bus.
“We’ve had a really tragic morning here in Flushing,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio at the scene Monday morning. “This is a very painful moment. We know that one of those who was lost was simply walking down the sidewalk on Monday morning, maybe on their way to work, and out of nowhere this happens.”
Witnesses at the scene said the Dahlia bus was speeding through a light when the accident occurred. According to reports, the wrecked tour bus's speedometer was stuck at 60 mph.
MTA chairman Joe Lhota referenced the speed of the bus in his comments Monday morning.
“We’ll go through the investigation as well with the PTSB (Public Transportation Safety Board), the state authority that will look into this,” he said. “We're very concerned about the speed.”
The driver, 49-year-old Raymond Mong, was fired from the MTA after he was convicted of drunk driving in Connecticut, where he caused an accident and left the scene.
Since 2015, Dahlia bus drivers have been cited seven times for unsafe driving. In February 2016, a Dahlia bus headed to Mohegan Sun rolled over in a snowstorm, injuring several passengers, although no one was killed.
The company's office is located in Flushing, less than ten blocks from the scene of the accident.
“This horrible crash must be investigated thoroughly to determine the extent of the damage, and to confirm if negligence or insufficient safety controls were a factor,” said Councilman Peter Koo.
The mayor said the city would study the busy intersection through the Vision Zero program.
“The first thing we need to understand is what happened here, if anybody was specifically at fault or how it played out,” de Blasio said. “But of course we’ll look at the intersection itself to see if there’s anything else that we have to do to improve the situation.”