The driver behind the wheel in a deadly tour bus crash will go to prison. Kin Yiu Cheung admitted falling asleep when his bus overturned in Bowling Green in 2011, killing four people. Wednesday, he was sentenced to 40 years with 34 years suspended.
The state says Cheung should have never been behind the wheel if he knew he was unfit to drive. His defense attorney said he had no choice.
"I think he was a man trying to keep his job," attorney Taylor Stone said.
He says his client only wanted to obey his managers, when he drove a bus carrying 56 people, even though he was tired. Cheung admitted to dozing off. Four people died when the bus went off the road and overturned. One of them is Karen Blyden who leaves behind an 11 year old daughter. In court Wednesday, her brother testified their family is devastated.
"I know the judge didn't like my use of the word ‘accident' but there was no intent on my client's behalf," Stone said.
Cheung apologized for his actions to the victims and families that appeared in court to hear the sentence.
"He essentially said 'I wish I'd died instead of the others'," said Commonwealth Attorney Tony Spencer.
Though Cheung has no prior criminal history, prosecutors say the driver must be held accountable. The judge agreed, sentencing Cheung to six active years behind bars.
"Six years is appropriate. More would've been appropriate. I don't think less would've been appropriate," Spencer said.
Cheung listened to the case against him with the help of an interpreter. His attorney suggested his client never wanted to be in this position.
"I don't think my client wanted to be driving that leg of the trip. Why did he? I think because he was told to drive," Stone said.
Judge Joseph Ellis told Cheung "You're not an evil person. You're a good person who made a bad choice." He also suggested this case should serve as a mirror for anyone else who chooses to put other people's lives in danger. Cheung will get credit for six months jail time he already served and may be released from prison sooner than five and half months if he's on good behavior.
Cheung was driving a bus from Greensboro, NC to New York City when he crashed on Interstate 95 in May 2011.
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