D.A. considers criminal charges against bus owner

By: Emi FitzGerald Email
By: Emi FitzGerald Email

DALLAS (AP) - Harris County prosecutors say they are considering
criminal charges against a Houston bus owner and president whose
bus crashed near Sherman, killing 17.

The dead are Vietnamese Catholics who were en route to a
religious festival in Missouri.

Of the 17 dead, 12 were killed outright. Six survivors, including the bus driver, remain hospitalized in critical condition.

State and federal investigators are examining what they say is the "grossly deficient" maintenance record of Angel De La Torre. He is owner and president of the bus company that chartered the death bus.

Rarely do owners face criminal charges in bus accidents, but it has happened.

A 2005 Hurricane Rita bus fire and explosion near Dallas left 23 passengers dead. That time, bus owner Jim Maples was convicted of failure to maintain his buses and sentenced to six months of home incarceration and six months in a halfway house. Prosecutors had sought to have him imprisoned for seven years, but he was convicted
of lesser charges.

The Harris County District Attorney's Office says they are considering filing criminal charges against angel tours incorporated if the facts from the investigation warrant it.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and a senator from Ohio are asking Congress to consider a bus safety bill that has been in the works for a few years. The bill would call for imposes federal safety regulations that could include seatbelts on motor coach buses.

"We clearly need more inspections that would at least uncover the rudimentary issues like good tires and brakes that work," Sen. Hutchison said.

In Grayson County, district attorney Joe Brown says he is not ruling out charges either, but for now nothing is certain.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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  • by Son-in-Law Location: BCJ on Aug 18, 2008 at 05:14 AM
    Humm the DA is considering charges on the driver . . .well last may the 72 year old Bryan County Sheriff was driving the train when a prisoner he was supposed to have in jail murdered someone, and no charges are being filed against him.
  • by Anonymous on Aug 15, 2008 at 12:11 PM
    me, you are the idiot here, these people like this they don't care as long as they get their money from the passengers, in which this case he will not get anything but jail time and if that was my loved ones I would sue him for everything he had, the driver needs to speed time in jail too
  • by here Location: gone on Aug 15, 2008 at 07:13 AM
    the sad thing is they probably dont have enough to sue them over and they will just get a slap on the hand or deported one
  • by me Location: sherman on Aug 13, 2008 at 08:49 PM
    To anonymous (of course)It DOES matter, the owner knew he had no license to be in operation. He must have known that there was an APB out to stop any bus with "Angel Tours" and declare them unfit to continue. Give me a break because it DOES matter. "The bus that they were 'supposed' to take had something wrong with it?" You are an idiot.
  • by Anonymous on Aug 13, 2008 at 01:04 PM
    "me" The bus that they were suppose to take there was something wrong with it and they took this one that they should have checked it out too before they had it on the road, it really doesn't matter, the driver and the owner are both in big trouble
  • by me Location: sherman on Aug 13, 2008 at 10:42 AM
    Anyone notice that in the crash pictures the logo "Angel Tours" was not on this bus? Was the owner trying to hide something since he knew he was not supposed to be in operation? I find this suspiciously odd.
  • by bob Location: denison on Aug 13, 2008 at 07:49 AM
    The texas justice court has not been able to prosicute any mexacan nationals what makes us believe they will do it now?
  • by Anonymous on Aug 13, 2008 at 01:55 AM
    Sean- who is to say Joe Brown won't be involved? This one may be out of county jurisdiction, and into either state or Federal domain.
  • by Mary Location: Sherman on Aug 12, 2008 at 06:20 PM
    I am just thankful that SISD gets a reliable company for our band kids. I don't always get to go to the out of town games and when I don't I sit at home just waiting to know my kid is home safe and sound. I just hope that the company or driver or whoever they decide to be at fault for this has to pay dearly for each and every life lost that day!
  • by Anon Location: texas on Aug 12, 2008 at 05:10 PM
    Anonymous, Sorry, I haven't read all the stories. I totally agree with you, we can't depend on anyone else when it comes to our own safety. If I or a loved one of mine has any reason to ride one of these buses in the future, rest assured, I will check up on the company and the driver myself. I take my children to school and pick them up mainly because there are no seat belts on school buses. They do ride buses for field trips, and I'm always a nervous wreck until they get home. I am praying for these families, and hopefully Senator Hutchison and others will get this new Bus Safety Bill passed and help avoid another accident like this.
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