NTSB probe: Tire failed due to puncture in Sherman bus crash

By: Daniel Armbruster Email
By: Daniel Armbruster Email

Washington, D.C.--The National Transportation Safety Board released the findings of an investigation into last year's deadly bus crash in Sherman. On Tuesday, the daughter of one of the 17 people who died in that accident is demanding more safety legislation. The NTSB says it was a punctured tire that caused one of the largest emergencies Sherman rescue workers have ever faced.

Just over one year ago a charter bus carrying 55 members of a Vietnamese church from Houston lost control on highway 75, just north of F.M. 1417, slamming into a bridge guardrail twice before rolling onto its side.

Since the early morning hours of August 8th, 2008 there's been much speculation into what lead to the horrific scene that grabbed the attention of the national media and federal authorities. Today the National Transportation Safety Board released it's findings. The board says an investigation found five major safety issues involving the crash:

-A puncture in the right front tire lead to tire failure, and the bus did not have a tire pressure monitoring system.

-The failure of the bridge railing along U.S. Highway 75.

-The lack of oversight of the federal commercial vehicle inspections which are delegated to the states.

-The Lack of Motorcoach occupant protection systems.

-And deficiencies in federal safety oversight of new entrant motor carriers.

"We really really strongly need for congress to step in," said Yen-Chi Le, a victim’s daughter.

More oversight and new legislation is something Yen-Chi Le would like to see. She lost her mother in the deadly crash. On Tuesday, she and others were at the board meeting in Washington D.C. to show their support for change.

"We are really saddened that after finding out more information, our crash is pretty typical of other crashes that have occurred in the last 40 or 50 years," said Le.

Dr. Jerry Donaldson, with NTSB agrees with Le. Donaldson said more oversight is needed, because many bus companies violate safety standards when no one is looking.

"We can have several dozen people on board at one time, and these people are simultaneously at risk, just like a group of people would be on a commuter airline. And it's possible to have the kind of crash in which dozens are killed and injured," said Donaldson.

However, the fact that the tire was a retread wasn't cited as a cause of the blowout.

The board also found that the failure of the bridge's railing and a lack of seatbelts contributed to the wreck and its casualties.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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