Manslaughter charges filed in 2007 Ark. bus crash

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Posted on 19th November 2008 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 11/19/2008

By JON GAMBRELL
Associated Press Writer


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ A Texas bus driver in a crash last year that killed four people will face manslaughter charges because there isn’t enough evidence to charge him with negligent homicide.

Twenty-nine-year-old Felix Badillo Tapia was charged Wednesday with four counts of manslaughter in the November 2007 crash in Arkansas. They each carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Felony negligent homicide charges would require proof of drug or alcohol intoxication. Prosecutor Fletcher Long says authorities did not conduct a field sobriety test on the suspect.

Tapia was driving a Tornado Bus Co. bus when it slammed into a pickup truck and a tractor-trailer. The crash killed three bus passengers and the pickup’s driver.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

Victims of Guatemalan bus fire were shot first

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Posted on 10th November 2008 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 11/10/2008

By JUAN CARLOS LLORCA
Associated Press Writer

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) _ Prosecutors said Monday that 15 charred bodies found in a burned-out bus were shot before they were set on fire.

At least 14 of the dead were Nicaraguan, including the driver, said Attorney General Amilcar Velazquez.

The bus left Nicaragua with 16 passengers, but only 15 bodies were found after the bus burned on Saturday on an unpaved road in a mountain valley.

It is unclear was happened to the 16th passenger.

Police spokesman Donald Gonzalez said the killings may have been drug related. He said parts of the vehicle had been violently torn away, as if someone was looking for secret compartments.

Velazquez says bullets and shell casings were found at the scene, and authorities have confirmed the victims were shot, explaining why there were no signs that anyone tried to flee the burning vehicle. All the dead were found in their seats.

The bus was on a charter route that carried Nicaraguan vendors to Guatemala, where they would buy things to sell at home.

Driver Carlos Paiz had driven the same route every weekend for the past four years, according to his relative, Donald Sandoval, who said he didn’t know why the bus was targeted.

“It was a bus that left from (Nicaragua) and anyone could get on,” he said.

Guatemala has struggled with growing drug and gang violence.

In March, near where the bus was found, 11 people were killed in a gang fight in which several vehicles were torched.

And the charred bodies of three Salvadoran members of the Central American Parliament were found along a rural road in February 2007.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

German officials: spark may be cause of bus fire

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Posted on 5th November 2008 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 11/5/2008

German officials: spark may be cause of bus fire

HANNOVER, Germany (AP) _ A bus fire that killed 20 people in northern Germany may have been caused by a spark from the undercarriage, prosecutors said Wednesday, discounting an initial theory that the blaze was sparked by a cigarette.

Testimony from the 13 survivors of Tuesday night’s fire established that it started in a bathroom in the middle of the bus, said local fire chief Bernd Keitel.

Passengers told officials they saw smoke seeping from behind the bathroom door. When they opened it, flames quickly engulfed the bus, trapping those seated to the rear.

Keitel told reporters he suspected that a spark in the bus’s undercarriage may have set light to gases from the bathroom area. He said it was unlikely that the blaze was sparked by a passenger smoking clandestinely — smoking is illegal on buses in Germany — in the bathroom. He did not offer details.

A police spokesman said survivors told authorities immediately after the blaze that the fire appeared to have broken out after a person smoked a cigarette in the bathroom.

The bus was carrying 32 passengers aged between 46 and 79, according to police. The 51-year-old driver, who was not identified, was the only person so far to have been discharged from the hospital. Three people remained in critical condition with severe burns.

Georg Wessling, a spokesman for the Lower Saxony state’s justice ministry, said prosecutors would investigate whether someone on the bus or elsewhere might be responsible for negligent manslaughter. He said there were no suspects, and added that authorities have not yet been able to identify any of the 20 victims, due to the severity of the fire.

Autopsies and DNA testing have been ordered.

The Mercedes Benz bus had been chartered by a tour organizer to take a group of seniors on a day trip to a farm near Hannover. It was on its way back to the city when the fire broke out.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.