Authorities: Tire failure may be behind Nev. crash


Posted on 11th August 2008 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Foundation is important to any structure or piece of equipment. In a motor vehicle, that foundation is the tire. The below story raises the issue of tires. Too many accidents that do have a responsible wrongdoer, are written off as not actionable, because no one considered the responsibility of the seller or installer of the tires.
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Attorney Gordon Johnson
©Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr. 2008

Date: 8/11/2008 12:33 PM

Associated Press Writer

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Tire failure may have caused a casino worker shuttle bus crash that injured 29 people, a Nevada Highway Patrol officer said Monday.

It’s still early in the investigation, but officers have found evidence of tread separation on the left front tire of the full-sized bus, Trooper Kevin Honea said.

Three people remained in critical condition Monday at University Medical Center in Las Vegas, including the driver, said spokeswoman Tammy McMahan.

Herbst Gaming Inc. president Ferenc Szony said there were 33 employees on the chartered bus when it crashed Sunday night on Interstate 15 about eight miles south of the Las Vegas Strip. The bus was shuttling the workers to Las Vegas from the state-line town of Primm.

Wheels and suspension components were ripped from the bus and strewn across the highway, he said.

A casino bus also was involved in an accident Sunday in Mississippi that killed three people and injured more than 30.

The bus belonging to Harrah’s Tunica was carrying 43 people when it overturned at an intersection in Tunica, authorities said. Rain was falling at the time but Mississippi Highway Patrol Sgt. Leslie White would not speculate on the cause of the wreck.

In Texas, 17 people have died as a result of a wreck on Friday that involved a chartered bus. Authorities said that vehicle’s right front tire blew out and had been retreaded in violation of safety standards. Inspectors also looking at the vehicle’s mechanical systems.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

29 injured in Las Vegas bus crash


Posted on 11th August 2008 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 8/11/2008 1:40 AM

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ A bus crash south of Las Vegas has injured 29 people, four critically, after their employee shuttle swerved off the interstate and slammed into the center divider.

Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Kevin Honea (HUH-knee) says the bus wheels and undercarriage were ripped from the vehicle and strewn all over the I-15 at about 7 p.m. Saturday.

No other cars were struck by the debris and no other injuries were reported.

Honea says the employee shuttle bus was carrying about 31 passengers.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

Cease-work order for companies linked to Texas bus crash


Posted on 10th August 2008 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 8/10/2008 6:43 PM

Associated Press Writers

SHERMAN, Texas (AP) _ Companies linked to a bus that crashed in Texas and killed 17 people pose an “imminent hazard” and must cease commercial operations, federal officials said Sunday, shortly after authorities took another bus out of service in Missouri because it failed an inspection.

Inspectors found the other bus operating in Carthage, Mo., said National Transportation Safety Board spokeswoman Debbie Hersman. It was registered to Iguala BusMex Inc., the unlicensed company that also owned the bus in the Texas crash.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued its cease-operations order to Iguala BusMex and Angel Tours Inc., of which Angel De La Torre is owner and president. A second order issued to him finds that his “activities in connection with motor carrier operations pose an ‘imminent hazard’ to the public.”

Angel Tours’ voicemail system was full Sunday and not accepting new messages.

The bus in the Texas crash mashed into a guardrail and skidded off a highway early Friday at Sherman near the Oklahoma border, killing 12 people at the scene and five others who died at hospitals.

The passengers, most of them from three Vietnamese Catholic congregations in Houston, were traveling to Missouri for an annual religious festival.

Authorities have also released the driving record of the bus driver, 52-year-old Barrett Wayne Broussard. Since 2001, he has been cited by police three times — once for driving while intoxicated and twice for speeding.

His license was suspended from for nearly two months in 2001 as a result of the DWI conviction in Harris County, Hersman said. His speeding violations came in 2007 and 2004. Broussard also failed roadside inspections twice in the past year, both times resulting in his vehicle being taken out of service for driver logbook violations.

Robert Accetta, the NTSB member leading the investigation, said officials were still fact-finding. An investigator will travel to Houston with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to find information about Iguala BusMex and Angel Tours.

Lt. Bob Fair of the Sherman Police Department said his agency is finishing inspections of the bus. He declined to comment on whether any criminal charges would be filed.

Authorities said the vehicle’s right front tire, which blew out, had been retreaded in violation of safety standards.


Ana Ley reported from Houston. Associated Press writers Jeff Carlton and Matt Curry in Dallas contributed to this report.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

3 killed, several injured in Mississippi bus crash


Posted on 10th August 2008 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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It is a constant theme on this blog, but it just can’t be said often enough: How many of the injuries and deaths in this Mississippi bus crash detailed below, would have been avoided with airbags and seatbelts? If buses cost many times what a car does, why can’t they include all of the safety equipment a car has?

Attorney Gordon Johnson
©Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr. 2008

Date: 8/10/2008 6:29 PM

Associated Press Writer

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ Three people were killed and several injured Sunday when a casino bus carrying a group of tourists in northwestern Mississippi overturned on its way to the airport, officials said.

The bus belonged to Harrah’s Tunica and was carrying 43 people when it flipped over in a median at an intersection in Tunica, Tunica County spokesman Larry Liddell said.

Tourists on the bus were traveling to the airport for a flight to South Carolina, where many were from, officials said.

The bus was the only vehicle involved in the accident, which was still under investigation, Mississippi Highway Patrol Sgt. Leslie White said.

The injured passengers were taken to hospitals in Memphis, Tenn., about 35 miles to the north.

Twenty-seven people were taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital, spokesman Thomas Whitehead said. One was in critical condition and five were being held for observation. The rest had what Whitehead described as minor injuries.

Messages left at Regional Medical Center in Memphis were not immediately returned.

Harrah’s Entertainment operates 50 casinos worldwide, including three in Tunica: Harrah’s Tunica, Horseshoe Casino and the Sheraton Casino & Hotel. The area along the Mississippi River in the northwest corner of the state is best known for its bustling casinos.

“At this time, we’re focusing on the health and welfare of the guests involved in this tragic accident,” company officials said in a statement. The company set up a telephone hot line to give information and assistance to relatives of the crash victims.


Harrah’s bus crash information line: 1-800-946-4946

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

911 callers told of carnage at Texas bus wreck


Posted on 9th August 2008 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Sadly, this is not the first church bus crash of the summer. Earlier this year we blogged about a fatal crash in Alabama on a cross country church camp trip. In that crash, one child died and his brother was seriously brain injured. See

These church expeditions come with significantly increased risk of injury, as the drivers are often not professionals and the trips are too long for drivers not governed by strict federal fatigue standards. See

Attorney Gordon Johnson
©Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr. 2008

Date: 8/9/2008 6:03 PM

Associated Press Writer

SHERMAN, Texas (AP) _ Witnesses who called 911 after the crash of a charter bus that killed at least 16 people described a chaotic scene, telling emergency workers of bloody passengers crushed beneath the smoking wreckage, according to calls released Saturday by police.

The unlicensed bus carrying 55 members of a Vietnamese Catholic group from Houston to Carthage, Mo., for a religious festival smashed into a guardrail and skidded off a highway early Friday near the Texas-Oklahoma state line. Twelve people died at the scene and four more died at hospitals.

One emergency call began with a female crash victim speaking in accented English over the screams and moans of other passengers. After struggling to answer the 911 operator’s questions, she handed the phone to a man who had apparently arrived at the scene immediately after the crash.

“We’ve got people crushed underneath the bus,” the man said. “The bus is smoking. It might catch fire.”

A female caller told a 911 operator that there were passengers “just everywhere out here laid out on the ground. They are bloody.” Another caller said: “There’s people screaming for help.”

Most of the passengers were from the Vietnamese Martyrs Church and two other mostly Vietnamese congregations in Houston, heading to an annual festival honoring the Virgin Mary. The Marian Days pilgrimage, which started in the late 1970s, attracts thousands of Catholics of Vietnamese descent and includes a large outdoor Mass each day, entertainment and camping at night.

By late Saturday morning, traffic was back to normal and a damaged guardrail had been replaced. Several bouquets of carnations, tulips and roses were left on an embankment amid shards of glass and burned grass.

Authorities said the vehicle’s right front tire, which blew out, had been retreaded in violation of safety standards, said Debbie Hersman, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board. The tread separated from the tire in a process called delamination. It is legal to retread such tires but they may not be used on the wheels that steer the bus, she said.

After the tire blew out, the bus skidded about 130 feet before striking a guardrail, Hersman said. It then traveled nearly 120 feet before coming to rest down the embankment.

Authorities said Saturday they believe the 2002 model bus, a 45-foot long motor coach, was equipped with a device that could record information, similar to a black box on an airplane. If that device is found, it could help investigators learn how fast the bus was going and whether the driver hit the brakes or the accelerator at the time of the crash, Hersman said.

The driver, 52-year-old Barrett Wayne Broussard, had a commercial license, but his medical certification expired in May, according to the NTSB. Broussard was stable at a hospital. Authorities took blood samples from Broussard on Friday but do not have the results, Hersman said.

Broussard was convicted in 2001 of driving while intoxicated in Houston and sentenced to 10 days in prison and a $225 fine, according to online records from the Texas Department of Public Safety. He has also been arrested at least three other times and was sentenced to two years in prison in 1998 for violating probation.

The bus operator, Iguala BusMex Inc. of Houston, had applied in June for a federal license to operate as a charter but was still awaiting approval, according to online records. The company recently filed incorporation papers, listing the same owner and address as Angel Tours Inc., which was forced by federal regulators to take its vehicles out of interstate service June 23 after an unsatisfactory review.

The review cited the company for problems in three areas: using a driver before receiving a pre-employment result, failing to require a driver to prepare a vehicle inspection report and using a driver who wasn’t medically re-examined every two years.

A May 1 review by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration cited the company for violations including a lax drug and alcohol testing program, Hersman said. Two of five drivers did not have current medical certificates, and 27 of 28 vehicle inspections were missing, she said.

Neither entity is authorized to operate as a carrier in interstate commerce, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The bus was registered under temporary tags that were to expire Saturday, Hersman said. The NTSB is looking into the history of the sale of the bus, which was sold by a bus company in New York.

A man at Angel Tours in Houston declined to comment Friday. The company’s voicemail system was full Saturday and not accepting new messages, and no one answered Saturday at a listing for the company’s attorney.

“We’re in the middle of a very intense investigation,” attorney Keena Greyling told the Houston Chronicle, the newspaper reported Saturday on its Web site. “Because of that, we really can’t discuss anything further.”

Vu Pham, 35, of Houston, said his brother, sister-in-law, mother and 12-year-old nephew were on the bus. His brother, whose left leg has been paralyzed since he was a boy because of polio, remained in intensive care Saturday in a Sherman hospital, he said.

“We thought it would be better for him to get on the bus because it’s a far drive,” Pham said. “Now he keeps saying that he should have driven himself.”

It was the nation’s deadliest bus crash since 2004, when 15 people were killed in a wreck in Arkansas on their way to Mississippi’s casinos. In 2005, 23 people were killed near Dallas when a bus carrying nursing home residents away from Hurricane Rita caught fire in bumper-to-bumper traffic.


Associated Press writers Jeff Carlton and Danny Robbins in Dallas contributed to this report.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.