Police: Students, others hurt in NY bus crash

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Posted on 25th February 2009 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 2/25/2009

MIDDLE ISLAND, N.Y. (AP) — Police in New York say 17 students and their driver were taken to hospitals after a school bus collided with a truck on Long Island. None of the injuries is considered serious.

The wreck occurred around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Middle Island. The bus was from the Longwood School District. School district officials and the bus company haven’t returned phone calls seeking comment.

Police say the students were involved in an after-school activity, but they are unsure what it was. The victims’ names have not been released.

The front end of the truck was badly damaged, and many of the bus’ windows were smashed. The truck driver also has been hospitalized.

A police officer was hit by a car while directing traffic surrounding the accident, suffering a serious but not life-threatening back injury. The car’s driver was not charged with any crime.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

DA: No charges in Pa. boy’s horseplay death

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Posted on 10th February 2009 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 2/10/2009

By MICHAEL RUBINKAM
Associated Press Writer

EASTON, Pa. (AP) — The death of a 12-year-old boy who was hit by a bus outside school as he horsed around with friends was a tragic accident that does not warrant criminal charges, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Dakota Galusha was gently shoved by a 13-year-old friend and stumbled backward over a curb and under the rear wheels of the bus before class two weeks ago, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said.

“There is no evidence that the deceased and (the student) had any personal problems between them. To the contrary, it appears that they had a well-known, friendly relationship,” Morganelli said.

The student’s name was not released.

Dakota’s mother had just dropped him off at Northampton Middle School outside Allentown when the accident occurred at about 7:15 a.m. on Jan. 26. Dakota kiddingly told his friend he had put something in his pond and, as a reply, the boy gave Dakota a push, the prosecutor said.

The bus that hit Dakota was going 3 to 5 mph as it approached the curb to drop students off. Its rear wheels ran over the boy’s midsection.

A coroner ruled Dakota’s death a homicide. But Morganelli said the evidence did not support a criminal charge of involuntary manslaughter, which requires reckless or grossly negligent behavior where a death could reasonably be foreseen.

“I do not find that (the boy) could have foreseen that his friendly push of his friend would place his friend in danger of death,” Morganelli said. “Clearly, the untimely death of 12-year-old Dakota Galusha was tragic. It was not, however, the result of criminally culpable conduct.”

Morganelli said Galusha’s parents, Kendall and Dina Galusha, agreed.

“They expressed no anger (toward the child) whatsoever,” he said.

Dakota, who went by the nickname “Kota,” played baseball, football and basketball and liked to snowboard. He was a staunch New York Giants fan.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Investigators focus on driver in tour bus crash

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Posted on 3rd February 2009 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 2/3/2009

By OSKAR GARCIA
Associated Press Writer

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Survivors of a tour bus crash that killed seven people in Arizona last week told investigators that the driver might have been distracted before the accident, a state official said Monday.

“We are focusing on the driver possibly being distracted for some unknown reason,” said Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Lt. James Warriner.

He did not elaborate on what the distraction might have been.

Three survivors of Friday’s crash near Hoover Dam have been interviewed, Warriner said.

Investigators have been unable to speak to the 48-year-old hospitalized driver of the bus because of his injuries. They are checking his driving history, medical records and certification to operate the bus, Warriner said.

The driver, 48-year-old Han Dong of Rosemead, Calif., remains in fair condition at University Medical Center in Las Vegas. Investigators said they don’t believe he was impaired at the time of the crash.

The tour guide and six Chinese tourists were killed in the crash. Ten others were injured.

The California Public Utilities Commission on Monday suspended the charter certificate of D.W. Tour & Charter of San Gabriel, Calif., the company that owned the tour bus.

“Effectively, they cannot operate,” commission spokesman Christopher Chow said, adding that the suspension applies to operations in California.

The suspension occurred because the company’s liability insurance expired Monday, he said.

Pete Kotowski, lead investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, said that the company passed its most recent federal review in August 2007. Six months earlier, a review showed the company had insufficient drug and alcohol testing and policies for drivers.

The company, which owns two buses and employs four drivers, is listed as “satisfactory” by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The company did not immediately return calls or respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

The 30-seat bus involved in the crash was smaller than a typical tour bus — similar in size to an airport car-rental shuttle — and did not have seat belts, Kotowski said. It was federally certified for travel on all U.S. highways, he said.

The accident occurred as the bus was returning to Las Vegas after a trip to the Grand Canyon.

The bus drifted onto the highway’s shoulder and the driver overcorrected, sending it across two traffic lanes and into a gravel median, Kotowski said. It rolled over at least once before resting on its side. Most passengers were thrown out of the vehicle’s windows.

Kotowski did not say how fast the bus was traveling. The speed limit on the straight stretch of road is 65 mph.

Tourists on the bus were Chinese nationals who had flown from Shanghai to San Francisco and had most recently been in Las Vegas, the Arizona Department of Public Safety has said.

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Associated Press Staff writers Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Ariz., and Ken Ritter in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Investigators comb tour bus crash site for clues

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Posted on 2nd February 2009 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 2/1/2009

By FELICIA FONSECA and AMANDA LEE MYERS
Associated Press Writers

DOLAN SPRINGS, Ariz. (AP) — Federal investigators on Sunday closely examined a stretch of rural Arizona highway near Hoover Dam looking for clues to the cause of a tour bus crash that killed seven Chinese tourists.

The six investigative team members would be measuring and photographing the site, evaluating the condition of the highway, and looking for skid marks and other clues, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said.

“These markings can be very important in telling the story of what happened,” Knudson said.

The bus crashed Friday on a straight stretch of U.S. 93, about 70 miles southeast of Las Vegas.

The tourists had left Las Vegas early Friday on a trip to the Grand Canyon, and were returning when the bus veered right and then left across the median, rolling at least once before resting across the southbound lanes of the highway.

Along with the seven people killed, 10 others were injured.

After inspecting the crash site, the investigators planned to head south to Kingman to evaluate the bus. That will include checking whether the wheels and brakes were in good working order and whether any mechanical malfunctions may have caused the accident, Knudson said.

He said the investigators also plan to interview the 48-year-old bus driver, who was in fair condition at a Las Vegas hospital, and the surviving passengers.

“The more people we talk with, the more information we’ll be able to get,” he said.

The investigation will take 12 to 18 months to complete, with the bulk of the work being conducted at the NTSB’s headquarters in Washington, Knudson said.

Representatives of the Arizona Department of Public Safety said they likely will have some preliminary results this week.

“Was it mechanical failure? Was it driver error?” DPS spokesman Lt. James Warriner said. “All that will come with looking at the vehicle and conducting interviews.”

Warriner said of the weather at the time of the wreck that it was a “nice, clear day.”

The DPS said the bus belonged to D.W. Tours of San Gabriel, Calif., which didn’t respond to an e-mail from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Five people remained hospitalized Sunday at University Medical Center in Las Vegas. Two were in critical condition.

Hospital spokesman Rick Plummer said the victims’ injuries ranged from spinal and head injuries to bone fractures. “It ran the whole gamut of injuries,” he said.

Volunteers from the Chinese community in Las Vegas crowded the hospital’s trauma unit Saturday, hoping to help with translation and taking food to the families of the injured.

Huang Xiaojian from the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles also was at the hospital but said she would not discuss details. “I am here to visit the patients,” she said.

Two others — an 18-year-old woman and a 57-year-old man in fair condition Sunday — were at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, according to hospital spokeswoman Ashlee Seymour. Another was still being treated at Kingman Regional Medical Center, hospital spokesman Ryan Kennedy said.

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Associated Press Writer Kathleen Hennessey contributed to this report.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.