Background Check of Bus Driver with Criminal Past under Scrutiny after Fatal Crash in New York

The Governor of New York has ordered an investigation into a horrific bus crash that left 15 passengers dead, citing the “criminal record and driving history” of the bus driver after it was revealed that he had served prison time for manslaughter and forgery and had his driving privileges suspended after ignoring tickets for speeding and driving without a license, according to a report from CNN. The story also raised questions about what background check, if any, was conducted on the driver before he was hired.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in a statement ordered the state’s inspector general to “commence an immediate investigation” of how the bus driver behind the wheel at the time of the accident was able to obtain and retain a commercial driver’s license. The 40-year-old bus driver – who has not been charged in the incident – claimed that the accident occurred after he swerved to avoid a tractor-trailer. However, surviving passengers, some of whom suffered severe injuries, told police they felt the bus drift off the road before the crash.

According to CNN, the troubled criminal history of the bus driver includes fatally stabbing a man in Brooklyn with others in 1990 for which he served three years in prison for manslaughter from 1992 to 1994 and an arrest and conviction of grand larceny for which he was imprisoned from 1998 to 2002. The man used alias names in both cases, the New York Daily News reports. In addition, his driving privileges were also suspended after he ignored several tickets in 1995, meaning he should not have even been at the wheel of the bus.

Employers avoid “bad hires” by practicing due diligence with background checks to avoid applicants who are dangerous, unfit, or not qualified. Background checks can also help employers avoid lawsuits for “negligent hiring” – which is the flip side of “due diligence.” If employers hire someone who they either knew or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known was dangerous, unfit, or not qualified for the position, the employer can be sued for negligent hiring if injuries or death occur.

For more information on background checks of job applicants, including criminal record searches and driver’s license checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.ESRcheck.com.

Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco, CA area with a mission to help both employers and employees maintain safe workplaces, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen and is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). For more information about Employment Screening Resources (ESR), please visit http://www.ESRcheck.com or email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at tahearn@ESRcheck.com. 

Sources:
http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/03/14/new.york.bus.accident/index.html?eref=mrss_igoogle_cnn#
http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/03/15/2011-03-15_ophadell_williams_the_devil_bus_driver_in_horrific_crash_did_prison_time_for_mur.html