Bus Crash Investigation

By: Courtney Lassiter Email
By: Courtney Lassiter Email

As more details emerge about the accident on I-65 investigators are finding a number of factors contributed to the deadly crash.

Reports are leading investigators to believe the motor coach company owner, Clarence Williams of Birmingham, Ala., was cutting corners.

The make and model of the bus could not be identified because the tags were expired and registered to another bus.

The bus was equipped to handle 55 people, but 66 were on the bus at the time of the crash.

In the preliminary investigation KSP reports the driver fell asleep at the wheel causing the bus to hit the concrete overpass at more than 65 miles-per-hour.

The bus was a 1995 model which is older than most Americans' cars they're driving.

"Investigators say it's one of the worst crashes as far as physical damage," said Trooper Todd Holder, who surveyed the damage with a crew from the manufacturing company. The company said although the bus is destroyed it handled the crash well.

"It just amazes me more people weren't more seriously injured or killed,"
Holder said, as he looks at the wreckage left from the bus. The bus was overcrowded.

It had ten more people than it was supposed to, passenger Carlos Davis said the kids sat wherever they could find a seat.

"One of my little cousins he was on the floor, actually sleeping on the floor because it was packed like that," Davis said.

"I'll say the bus was overcrowded like three kids to two seats," Davis remembered. By the time they got to Ohio he said almost the entire bus was asleep.

"We got to Cincinnati - there was a bad accident. We were stuck in traffic an hour and a half. Everyone went to sleep - it was around 12:00 a.m. or 1:00 a.m. then," Davis said.

The driver wasn't taking proper sleeping breaks to ensure passenger safety. There was no sleeping arrangement on the bus for the drivers.

"When the first driver moves to just a regular coach seat and tries to sleep - that's not legal," Trooper Holder explained.

A federal law requires drivers to sleep in an actual bed and log the time they slept.

Under the law, they have the choice to check into a motel or log their hours in a built in sleeping birth.

"The driver didn't in this case," Trooper Holder said. "He just went to a passenger seat and tried to go to sleep."

The owner isn't facing any charges since the driver is normally responsible for proper operation of the bus. Since the driver is deceased, possible civil litigation against the company could be forthcoming.

For information on the hours of service regulations for commercial drivers, click here.

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