Casino tour bus driver charged in connection with December 2012 fatality

The driver of a Rockland, Mass.-based casino tour bus that struck and killed a Mohegan Sun employee on tribal property last year has been charged with failure to yield to a pedestrian at a crosswalk and negligent homicide with a motor vehicle.

Lin Qi Si, 39, of Braintree, Mass., arrested last week by state police, is free on a written promise to appear in Superior Court in Norwich on Dec. 19.

The arrest follows a lengthy investigation by State Trooper Jeffrey A. Rogers into the Dec. 5, 2012, accident at the intersection of Sandy Desert and Trading Cove roads. Pui Yi Li, 62, who had been walking to work at the casino with a co-worker/housemate, suffered massive head injuries after she was struck while crossing Sandy Desert Road.

She was pronounced dead at The William W. Backus Hospital about 1½ hours after the accident. Li worked for the casino's environmental services department, according to acquaintances.

Video footage studied

Rogers interviewed Si and several other witnesses to the accident, reviewed video footage from a camera positioned nearby and worked with two troopers from the Collision Analysis & Reconstruction Squad. The trooper determined that Si had struck Li in a crosswalk after turning left on a green light, according to an arrest warrant affidavit that is contained in Si's court file. The bus driver said he did not see Li until he struck her, and the investigation determined his view may have been partially obstructed by a large pillar and side view mirror, creating a blind spot.

"However, that being said, it is the responsibility of the operator to adjust his view to clear the blind spot and ensure that his intended path of travel is safe," says the affidavit.

Drivers also are required to grant the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks, slowing or stopping until the pedestrians reach the opposite curb or safety zone.

Li worked for the Tribal Sun Bus Co. a private bus company from Rockland, Mass., and had 12 years of driving experience, according to the court document. On Dec. 5, he delivered about 40 passengers to the casino about an hour before the 3 p.m. accident, fueled up the bus at the station near the Mohegan Tribal Fire Department and was headed back to a bus parking area when the accident occurred.

Si stopped for the red light at the intersection of Trading Cove and Sandy Desert roads, and Li and her co-worker pressed the walk light button and crossed from the northwest corner of the intersection to the northeast corner, according to the affidavit. It is difficult to determine from the video whether the pedestrians pressed the walk light button again as they started to walk across Sandy Desert Road, according to the affidavit. The walk light activates for approximately 23 seconds, and an investigator said that pedestrians would have to speed up to a light jog or run to make it across both roadways before the traffic light turns green.

Li's co-worker said they were about halfway through the intersection when they heard and saw the bus coming. He said he started to walk forward at a fast pace, tripped and fell to the ground. He said he looked behind him and saw Li on the ground in front of the bus with blood on her face.

Troopers found five equipment violations during an inspection of the bus, but none appeared related to the accident, according to the affidavit. The rear license plate light was inoperative, there was no fire extinguisher, the windshield washer fluid was not operative and the bus was leaking fluid from an axle gear case and the lower engine.

The intersection was the location of another fatality in August 2004, when a tour bus struck and killed Joseph Young, 68, of West Haven and injured his wife. An investigation determined the bus driver was operating the bus in excess of allowed hours and the bus had defective equipment. The driver was convicted of negligent homicide with a motor vehicle and reckless driving.

k.florin@theday.com

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