The driver in a deadly Megabus crash was found not guilty of criminally negligent homicide in Onondaga County Court Tuesday morning.
Judge Anthony Aloi handed down the verdict in the bench trial shortly after 11:00 a.m.
John Tomaszewski, of New Jersey, faced four counts of criminally negligent homicide in the September, 2010 crash that killed four people and injured dozens of others.
After the judge made his ruling, Tomaszewski told our Jessica Cain it was a tragic accident that will affect him for the rest of his life. Both the prosecution and defense say there are no winners in this case.
Monday morning, Judge Aloi heard testimony from the prosecution's final witness, Detective Valerie Brogan. Brogan spoke with Tomaszewski at St. Joseph's Hospital following the crash and read the statement Tomaszewski gave her at the hospital. In it, the driver said, "I had a GPS, and it was telling me to take a right hand turn," and, "I was driving along waiting to turn when the bus hit the bridge."
Tomaszewski's lawyer, Eric Jeschke, did not call any witnesses, even though he had previously considered putting Tomaszewski on the stand.
Four people were killed in the crash a year and a half ago. The victims included 18-year-old Deanna Armstrong, who grew up in Camillus , as well as 19-year-old Kevin Coffey, of Kansas, 34-year-old Ashwani Mehta, of India and 35-year-old Benjamin Okorie, of Malaysia. In all, 29 people including Tomaszewski were on the double decker bus when it crashed into the low lying CSX Railway bridge that crosses Onondaga Lake Parkway. The bus was traveling from Philadelphia to Toronto when it struck the bridge around 2:27 a.m.
The DOT also installed an over-height detection system near the bridge and added more warning signs to alert drivers approaching the bridge.
After announcing his not guilty verdict, Judge Aloi called for a permanent solution to the bridge problem on the Parkway.
Here's what some of you are saying about the verdict on our CNYCentral Facebook page :" data-hovercard="/ajax/hovercard/user.php?id=28405203"} Justin Lord How is it not his fault? There is plenty of warning there. If he couldn't see any of it, he had no business operating a motor vehicle, especially one carrying passengers.
" data-hovercard="/ajax/hovercard/user.php?id=1600363188"} Cathy Losurdo : I totally agree with the verdict and do not think he should have been on trial at all,something should have been done a long time ago with this bridge." data-hovercard="/ajax/hovercard/user.php?id=100000664888316"} Dianna Struble-Burke If the driver is not responsible for the innocent lives that were lost then who should be responsible???
What is your reaction to the verdict? What more do you think can be done to improve safety? Do you feel safe driving on the Parkway? Leave your thoughts below.