Surveillance video checked in fatal casino bus crash

Investigators looking into a horrific weekend casino bus crash that killed 15 people were examining surveillance video as they tried to retrace the actions of the driver, who once served time for manslaughter and grand larceny.

The account given by driver Ophadell Williams, 40, who said his tour bus carrying 32 people was clipped by a tractor-trailer, has been contradicted by passengers and witnesses who saw him driving erratically before Saturday’s crash on Interstate 95.

The bus, taking gamblers from a Connecticut casino back to Manhattan’s Chinatown, was sheared in half by a sign pole after overturning on the highway. Alcohol and drug test results for Williams were pending.

Williams was convicted of manslaughter for his role in a stabbing in 1990 and served just over two years, according to the New York State Department of Correctional Services. He had initially been charged with second-degree murder.

He also served about three years, from 1998 through the middle of 2002, for grand larceny for removing an $83,905 check from a Police Athletic League fund, according to Linda Foglia, correctional services spokeswoman.


Presidential candidates say Aristide will be welcomed

Haiti’s two presidential candidates Monday dismissed concerns that the apparently imminent return of exiled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide would disrupt the election, despite a State Department warning that he could be a destabilizing presence.

Candidate Michel Martelly, a singer known as “Sweet Micky,” told reporters that he did not think Aristide would influence the vote, although he prefers that the former president wait “two or three days” and postpone his arrival until after the election.

“He is welcome to come back like Jean-Claude Duvalier did,” said Martelly, referring to the former dictator who made a surprise reappearance in Haiti in January. “I hope his return doesn’t create instability for the elections.”

Mirlande Manigat, a university administrator and former first lady, expressed no misgivings about the return of Aristide, who has repeatedly said during his exile in South Africa that he wants to return home as a private citizen and work as an educator.

“President Aristide is welcome to come back and help me with education,” Manigat said .


Officials say island is safe after attack on gay tourists

A robbery and assault on three gay American tourists at their vacation cottage has St. Lucia officials scrambling to assure visitors that the southern Caribbean island is safe and welcoming for homosexuals.

Tourism Minister Allen Chastanet issued an apology Monday to three men from Atlanta after masked bandits broke into their mountain rental home in Soufriere. One victim said the gunmen made slurs against gays, white people and Americans during the March 3 assault.

Police announced Monday that they have arrested two suspects in the assault and are looking for three more.

This former British territory is not known as a risky place for gays, particularly compared with other, socially conservative Caribbean islands where many gays are not open about their sexuality.