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Driver acquitted in deadly bus crash

Feb. 28, 2012 at 1:08 PM

SYRACUSE, N.Y., Feb. 28 (UPI) -- A bus driver was acquitted Tuesday of negligent homicide for a crash that killed four when he hit a low railroad bridge after getting lost in upstate New York.

John Tomaszewski, 60, of Hamilton, N.J., heard the verdict from Judge Anthony Aloi, The (Syracuse) Post-Standard reported. Tomaszewski, who could have been sentenced to four years in prison, chose to be tried without a jury.

Tomaszewski was a driver for Megabus, which operates double-decker buses on long-distance routes with an emphasis on college towns. He was en route from Philadelphia to Toronto with a stop in Syracuse, N.Y., on Sept. 11, 2010, when he missed a freeway exit and ended up on Onondaga Lake Parkway in Syracuse in the early morning.

Four passengers were killed when the upper level of the bus hit a railroad bridge: Deanna Armstrong, 18, of Voorhees, N.J.; Kevin Coffey, 19, Manhattan, Kan., a student at Temple University in Philadelphia; Ashwani Mehta, 34, of India, and Benjamin Okorie, 35, of Malaysia.

Prosecutors said Tomaszewski missed 13 signs warning of the bridge's height because he was distracted by a personal GPS device.

Tomaszewski's lawyer said many of the signs were small, hard to read and did not refer specifically to height, warning only that trucks were banned from the parkway.

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