SYRACUSE, N.Y. - A bus driver was acquitted Tuesday of homicide charges in the deaths of four passengers killed when his double-decker Megabus crashed into a low overpass in upstate New York while en route from Philadelphia to Toronto.
A judge announced the verdict after a nonjury trial for 60-year-old John Tomaszewski of Yardville, N.J. Tomaszewski faced up to four years in state prison if convicted on each of four counts of criminally negligent homicide.
He sat with his head bowed and showed no reaction as Onondaga County Court Judge Anthony Aloi read the verdict.
Those killed were Deanna Armstrong, 18, of Voorhees, Camden County; Kevin Coffey, 19, an international business major at Temple University from Kansas; Ashwani Mehta, 34, an information specialist from India; and the Rev. Benjamin Okorie, 35, a preacher from Malaysia.
There were 29 passengers on the Megabus when it hit the railroad bridge in Salina, just outside Syracuse, early on the morning of Sept. 11, 2010.
Tomaszewski was driving from Philadelphia to Toronto with a planned stop at the Regional Transportation Center in Syracuse when he missed an exit from Interstate 81 and ended up on the parkway instead.
Assistant District Attorney Chris Bednarksi said during the trial that Tomaszewski was using a personal GPS device as he tried to find his way to the bus station and passed 13 warning signs, some with flashing yellow lights, before the wreck.
Tomaszewski's lawyer, Eric Jeschke, argued that state and CSX railroad officials were responsible for failing to fix the danger presented by the bridge, the scene of numerous accidents for years.
He also said Tomaszewski had limited experience and was on the parkway for the first time after being diverted from his route.
Jeschke rested the defense case without calling any witnesses.