The man who was behind the wheel in the Megabus disaster on the Onondaga Lake Parkway last year will face criminal charges.
In Onondaga County Court Monday morning, 60-year-old John Tomaszewski of New Jersey returned to Central New York for arraignment in the case of the Megabus crash last September which killed four people. Tomaszewski has been indicted by a Grand Jury on four counts of criminally negligent homicide for his role in the crash: one count for each of the four passengers killed. He is also charged with one count of failing to obey traffic devices.
Tomaszewski pleaded not guilty before Judge Anthony Aloi, who granted the defendant TMs request to be released on his own recognizance. Tomaszewski TMs attorney told Aloi that the defendant has surgery scheduled for next week after suffering a traumatic brain injury in the accident. The defense said Tomaszewski has no prior criminal record. Aloi granted the request on the condition that Tomaszewski not drive a vehicle for hire for the duration of the trial.
Early in the morning on September 11, 2010, the double-deck tour bus that Tomaszewski was driving slammed into the low railroad bridge on the Parkway, killing four people and injuring dozens more. Somehow, the driver missed several warnings about the height of the bridge after making a wrong turn off of Interstate 81. The 13'1" bus slammed into the 10'9" tall bridge. Investigators claim Tomaszewski was looking at his GPS device and was distracted when he drove into the bridge.
Assistant District Attorney Chris Bednarski says Tomaszewski is soley responsible for the accident. "The statue states he failed to perceive a risk that a reasonable person should have perceived, and by failing to perceive that risk, caused the death of four innocent victims."
The Philadelphia-to-Toronto bus was carrying 29 people, including the driver, when it crashed around 2:30 a.m. in the Town of Salina, near Liverpool.
Attorneys for both sides will meet again on June 3 for a preliminary hearing. The Onondaga County District Attorney TMs Office says it will consider a plea deal, but needs to talk to the victims TM families first.
Tomaszewski is due back in court on July 22 for a hearing.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.