A Bronx jury acquitted a bus driver Friday of almost all charges stemming from a crash that left more than a dozen people dead. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Ophadell Williams wiped tears from his eyes as the jury forewoman said he was not guilty to more than fifty charges.
Williams was charged with killing 15 passengers and injuring 15 others when the bus he was driving crashed on Interstate 95 last year.
He was convicted of a single count of driving with a suspended license, which carries a 30 day sentence.
He was released with time served because he sat on Rikers Island for more than a year before and during the trial since he couldn't raise the $250,000 bail.
To the jurors, Williams was grateful.
"Thank you," was all he had to say.
But Williams' lawyer Patrick Bruno said he still feels bad about those who died.
"He felt terrible that all of those lives were lost," Bruno said. "But on the other hand he was very troubled that he felt he was being made the martyr or the fall guy."
Bronx Prosecutors argued that Williams was too tired to be driving the bus full of people from a Connecticut casino to Chinatown.
The bus flipped at the Westchester-Bronx border. The roof was sliced off when the bus slid into a pole.
Prosecutors say they're disappointed by the verdict, but respect the jury's decision.
"In a case like this where he's a bus driver and he's responsible for lives, we felt it was important to bring this prosecution," Assistant District Attorney Gary Weil said.
Bruno said the jury made the right decision because it couldn't be determined if he was sleep deprived or not.
"This issue of sleep deprivation I feel was not proven," Bruno said. "To say that every one of us must have a minimum of seven and a half hours of sleep is ludicrous."
Florence Wong's father was killed in the crash and she says if Williams is truly sorry for the accident, she accepts it. But that doesn't mean she was fully satisfied by the verdict.
"He is still responsible for the crash," Wong said.
Bruno said Williams wants to get back to work.
"He certainly wants to work. His license issue was squared away," Bruno said. "How readily he will be welcomed as a bus or limo driver I don't know."