A tour bus driver who killed a pedestrian in Hell’s Kitchen while driving drunk has been convicted of manslaughter and homicide.
Steve Drappel, now 60, was making a left turn from 47th Street onto Ninth Avenue at around 10 p.m. on May 7, 2011, when he ran over 29-year-old Timothy White, according to published reports and a press release from Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance. White, who was in a crosswalk, was dragged for half a block before witnesses alerted Drappel by screaming and banging on the bus.
White was in town from Philadelphia to visit family and was walking to his cousin’s home after dinner, according to a DNAinfo story published the day after the crash.
“He was the perfect son,” his father Robert White, 67, said Sunday from his Pennsylvania home.
The devastated dad said his son had battled health problems and “was an inspiration to all of us.”
“Tim was a hero,” his mom Julia said. “He was a hero to all of us.”
Police found a cup containing vodka next to Drappel’s seat, and an open bottle of vodka in the luggage compartment of the bus, which reports said Drappel admitted was his. His blood alcohol level was .14.
The Post reported that Drappel had been in three crashes since 1997, and had citations for speeding and driving with a suspended license. Drappel was driving a bus owned by TraveLynx, a Florida company, for Chinatown-based tour operator L & L Travel, reports said.
According to the Vance press release, Drappel was convicted this week, following a bench trial in New York State Supreme Court, of second degree vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and two counts of driving while intoxicated.
“Driving while intoxicated is always the wrong decision,” said Vance, in the press release. “Driving a 25-ton bus brings with it the responsibility to protect not only passengers, but also motorists and pedestrians. Steve Drappel endangered the lives of his passengers and took the life of an innocent 29-year-old pedestrian in the process.”
The top charge against Drappel, second degree vehicular manslaughter, is a class D felony, punishable by up to seven years, but which can also result in no jail time or probation. He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 8.