- Last Updated: 11:50 AM, March 13, 2011
- Posted: 3:49 AM, March 13, 2011
A crowded bus cruising back to Chinatown from Connecticut's Mohegan Sun casino early yesterday was split in half in a horrifying accident on I-95 in The Bronx -- leaving 14 passengers dead and a blood-soaked mess of severed body parts, crumpled metal and broken glass.
World Wide Tours driver Ophadell Williams claimed that a tractor-trailer clipped the bus while changing lanes at about 5:30 a.m. and fled the scene.
But police sources, saying there was no damage evidence on the bus of any collision, were questioning Williams' account.
A truck driver traveling behind the bus told authorities it was moving erratically before it went off the road, but cops said Williams passed a Breathalyzer test, the sources said.
The trucker's vehicle was taken to State Police barracks on Long Island, where investigators were checking for signs of a collision. Preliminarily, no marks were found, the sources said.
Witnesses also said the bus was traveling at "a high rate of speed," according to State Police Maj. Michael Kopy, but it was not clear whether it was exceeding the 55-mph speed limit.
The bus careened off a guardrail, was knocked on its side and skidded 300 feet into the stanchion of the Hutchinson River Parkway exit sign, cops said.
The steel pole sliced through the bus at passenger-eye level, said FDNY Capt. James Ellson.
One victim was said to be decapitated in what was the largest single-incident loss of life in the city since an American Airlines jet crashed in Rockaway, Queens, in November 2001, killing 265.
"It was just a pile of humans -- on the seats, on the floor, wrapped around the wreckage," said Ellson, of Rescue Co. 3. "You would never want something like this wished upon your worst enemy."
Some of the 31 passengers were thrown from the bus, which left the Uncasville, Conn., casino at 3:45 a.m.
About eight others were pinned between the stanchion and the roof.
A handful were able to climb out and walk away on their own.
"You have live victims -- looking at you, breathing, screaming in agony -- with victims that had passed away lying on top of them," Ellson said.
"The victims [who] were still alive were in absolute agony. Some were trying to free themselves. Some were in absolute shock with what just happened."
One man -- impaled on a 2-inch piece of metal that had gone into his back -- was trapped between the stanchion and the bus' torn roof, said Ellson, a 20-year FDNY vet.