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Survivor of Virginia bus wreck is UNC student

Posted June 2, 2011

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— A student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was among those involved in a Virginia bus crash early Tuesday that killed four people and injured 20 others.

Riley Zecca, a 21-year-old junior, was headed to a New York with a friend when the SkyExpress bus, with 58 people on board, swerved off Interstate 95, hit an embankment and flipped over on Interstate 95, about 30 miles north of Richmond.

Zecca said Thursday that he can't understand how he walked away from the crash.

"I was told the bus flipped about three times and then landed on the roof," he said. "But I don't recall that. I don't know if I blacked out. It just happened so quickly that I couldn't really process it."

"I just crawled out, and I had blood all over my face and neck and shirt," he added.

Authorities are blaming driver fatigue as part of the reason for the crash. Zecca said a passenger apparently bought a ticket from the driver eight hours before the bus left.

"So, he was working that whole time and then started to drive our bus for another nine hours, which is a crazy shift," Zecca said. "No one should do that, especially if they're driving a bus at night."

It's why Pavion O'Connor, a Raleigh man arrested after the crash for taking pictures, believes he has a case against the bus company.

Survivor of Virginia bus wreck is UNC student Survivor of Virginia bus wreck is UNC student

His attorney, Kevin Goldberg, said SkyExpress has a long history of safety violations and that there had been proposed action to operate the company's operating status.

"I'm angry, and I know the families of those who were injured and killed are very angry that this SkyExpress wasn't taken out service before this crash," Goldberg said. "That's what should have happened."

According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records, Charlotte-based SkyExpress Inc. buses have been involved in four crashes, with one injury or fatality during the two-year period that ended May 20.

Its drivers have been cited for 17 unsafe-driving violations, including eight speeding violations, since 2009. Three of the 46 violations for fatigued driving were classified as serious.

SkyExpress also was cited for 120 vehicle-maintenance violations, including one classified as serious.

"I just had the expectation, that if there are all these violations that whatever organization was overseeing this would shut it down," Zecca said. "I mean, if this was the first time this happened, I would understand why they didn't shut it down, or at least sanction them in such a way that they would have to fix their problems."

7 Comments

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  • injameswetrust2003 Jun 2, 7:58 p.m.

    "3 of the 46 were classified as serious." Huh? Shouldn't they all be serious? Nobody wants a fatigued driver.

  • bmullins Jun 2, 7:29 p.m.

    "He was not arrested for taking photos. He was arrested for disobeying a command from a police officer."

    If the command was not lawful, you cannot be arrested for refusing to comply. Just because an officer tells you to do something (like jump off a bridge), they simply cannot arrest you because you refuse to comply.

    I assume the highway was closed after the accident. If an accident perimeter had NOT been established yet, then he was in a public space and had no reason to obey a command to move.

    Yes, I am making alot of assumptions and it is quite possible he was in the wrong, but if you look at how many photographers are wrongly arrested due to "contempt of cop", then this would be just another in a long string of misuse of authority by police against photographers.

    Again, he could be right or could be wrong - either way though a police officer cannot tell you to do just anything then arrest you for failure to comply.

  • anonemoose Jun 2, 7:15 p.m.

    Maybe because he was in the way of the rescue effort??? So he was the only one in the world that would have been able to take pics??

    Did he not think the investigators would take any?

  • sorcha48 Jun 2, 7:08 p.m.

    The man was standing in highway. He was asked to get out off the highway. He did not comply. After multiple attempts, he was arrested. He was not arrested for taking photos. He was arrested for disobeying a command from a police officer.

  • TeresaBee Jun 2, 6:56 p.m.

    Why would the person taking pictures get arrested over it?

  • snowmentality Jun 2, 6:54 p.m.

    "Pavion O'Connor, a Raleigh man arrested after the crash for taking pictures"

    Why was he arrested for taking pictures? What was illegal about that?

  • jsok123 Jun 2, 4:44 p.m.

    "..A student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was among those involved in a Virginia bus crash..."

    This is news, why? There are many people in the world and not all of them are affiliated with UNC