10 hurt as tour bus crashes

5 hospitalized; Parkway East snarled for hours

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An unidentified woman remained in critical condition yesterday from injuries she received in an early-morning tour bus crash on the Parkway East.

She was a passenger on a bus returning 12 people to Pittsburgh from a trip to Chinatown in New York City. The woman was hospitalized at UPMC Presbyterian.

Also being treated there were the driver, Fengwen Wang, 45, and three other passengers. All were in fair condition, a spokeswoman said.

Mr. Wang, driving west in a rainstorm, lost control of the bus just before 1 a.m. near the Edgewood-Swissvale exit.

The bus veered from the right lane to the left, then crashed into the concrete median. Still moving at a fast clip, it drifted back across both lanes into a guide rail, then ran up an embankment into a sign pole.

So violent were the crashes that the front of the bus was torn off, eliminating any protection Mr. Wang had. Yet he came through the accident in better shape than the critically injured female passenger.

State police did not immediately say where the woman was seated.

In addition to those hospitalized, five other passengers had bumps and bruises. Westbound traffic was slowed until about 10 a.m., when the bus was towed.

Police had not issued any citation as of last evening, but they were looking at the possibility of driver error. Given the rain and the steepness of that section of the parkway, Mr. Wang may have been traveling too fast for the conditions.

The bus is owned and operated by Shun Fa Inc., an Amherst, N.Y., business that ferries shoppers to Chinatown from various cities, mostly in New York state.

Ming Gao, chief executive officer of the company, said in a telephone interview that Mr. Wang had been driving the bus for only two days. He soon backed off that statement, saying he was unsure.

Records maintained by the New York state Department of Transportation show that Shun Fa Inc. now owns and operates three buses. The company has been in business about five years.

In New York, tour buses are subject to state inspection twice a year. From March 2005 through April of this year, eight inspections were done on Shun Fa buses. Six did not pass on their first try, though all of them later were approved for passenger service.

One that initially failed was the bus involved in the parkway crash. Records do not specify what the problem was, but it evidently was minor. The bus was approved for service on its second inspection March 21 after failing its first test earlier that day.

Darrell Sapp, Post-Gazette
Crews work to remove a crashed tour bus from the inbound lanes of the Parkway East near Edgewood yesterday morning.
Click photo for larger image.
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'Chinatown bus services' have grown quickly since 1998



Staff writer Joe Grata contributed. Milan Simonich can be reached at msimonich@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1956.


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