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Tour Bus Driver Indicted in Crash

July 19, 2002

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) _ A tour bus driver was indicted Thursday on undisclosed criminal charges for a crash in which his bus slammed into a guardrail and rolled down an embankment, killing five passengers.

William Hovan, 49, of Trumbull, Conn., will be arraigned July 30. State police said he admitted after the crash that he was tired.

The indictment was sealed, but prosecutor R. Michael Tantillo has said he believed the grand jury would consider homicide charges based on negligence or recklessness.

The Arrow Line Coach USA charter bus crashed June 23 south of Rochester as it was bringing church groups back to Waterbury, Conn., from Niagara Falls.All five victims, ages 15 to 30, were residents of Waterbury; 45 other people were injured.

Hovan has denied falling asleep at the wheel and blamed a bump in the road or a blown tire.

However, state police said Hovan spent the two nights before the crash in a Niagara Falls casino. The morning of the crash, Hovan ``catnapped″ on the bus for about 30 minutes while the group toured the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens.

Hovan’s lawyer, John Speranza, declined to comment.

Surviving passengers have filed lawsuits in Connecticut against Hovan and the company. One accuses Hovan of speeding and dozing off.

``Numerous passengers repeatedly suggested, requested and told Mr. Hovan to slow down,″ one affidavit says. ``All the requests, suggestions and demands the passengers made to Mr. Hovan were either ignored, neglected or refused.″

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