FLUSHING, Queens — Dahlia Travel and Tours, also known as the Dahlia Group, had at least two fatal bus crashes in its background — and a history of speeding violations — before its driver smashed into a Q20 bus Monday morning in Flushing.
Three people were killed, including the Dahlia driver, and more than a dozen others injured, some critically.
The driver was identified by police as Raymond Mong, 49, of Queens. A source told PIX11 News he was fired from the MTA in 2015, then went on to work for the charter company.
When PIX11’s camera turned up at the company’s depot on 34th Avenue in Willets Point, Queens, on Monday, personnel on the site quickly activated an electronic steel gate that shut us out. An NYPD patrol car sat outside.
When PIX11 called Dahlia’s listed phone number, asking where the Dahlia bus was heading at the time of the crash, an unidentified man who answered quickly said, “I have no idea right now. I cannot tell you anything.”
Federal records indicate that Dahlia was involved in a fatal accident in December 2016, without getting specific as to where it occurred.
But specifics are available about a February 2003 Dahlia bus crash that left two passengers dead and 28 others injured.
The 2003 crash happened on a Dahlia casino bus that was heading from Manhattan to Atlantic City. The bus flipped over on its side, after skidding off the road.
The Dahlia Group is facing multiple lawsuits tied to a February 2016 crash on I-95 in Connecticut.
On Feb. 11 last year, a Dahlia bus was carrying passengers to the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. The bus was traveling in a bad snow storm and rolled over on its side, sending 30 passengers to the hospital.
No one was killed.
Since 2015, Dahlia has been slapped with seven safety violations, five of them for speeding.
At 6:16 a.m. Monday, the Dahlia bus was traveling eastbound on Northern Boulevard, when it slammed into a Q20 city bus that was making a right turn onto the boulevard off Main Street.
A pedestrian on the sidewalk was pinned under the city bus, which spun around the wrong way.
A passenger on the city bus was killed and so was the driver of the Dahlia bus, which crashed into a group of stores on the ground floor of a large building.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who visited the accident site, told reporters, “it’s hard to compare to anything I’ve ever seen.”
MTA Chairman, Joe Lhota, said that speed was very likely a factor in the crash.
“These buses spun around,” Lhota said. “That requires an enormous amount of speed.”