Investigators looking into a fatal bus crash in Arizona that killed seven people and injured several others are now saying that the bus driver may have been distracted just before the horrific accident. According to this Associated Press news report, the bus company and the bus driver, 48-year-old Han Dong, were based in Los Angeles County. The charter bus company, D.W. Tour & Charter of San Gabriel, had its charter certificate suspended on Monday by the California Public Utilities Commission. That apparently happened because the company’s liability insurance expired on February 2, 2009.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety has released the names and ages of injured passengers. The names of those were killed have been withheld until their family members can arrive from China. Those who were injured in this accident are: Äî Ying Lei Zhao, 35; Ya Fen Cheng; Shun Xing Zhao, 61; Shuang Wu, 8; Shou Gui Wu, 47; Rui Hua Bao, 35; Tian Yi Xe, 19; Bang Yao Hong, 50; and Yee Kwan Lau, 41.
Based on interviews with three survivors, investigators are checking out Dong’s driving history, medical records and certification to operate the bus. The crash occurred on January 30, 2009 along the U.S. 93 in Arizona and near the Nevada border. The investigation is now focused on whether the driver was possibly distracted for some unknown reason, officials said. They don’t believe, however, that the bus driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the fatal bus crash.
The bus company has apparently had its share of previous problems. According to the Public Utilities Commission, the tour bus company had been fined $750 in October for hiring an unlicensed bus outfit as a sub carrier. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials, who are investigating the crash, also said that D. W. Tour & Charter, which owns two buses and employs four drivers, passed its last federal review in August 2007. Six months ago, a review also showed that the company had inadequate drug and alcohol testing policies for vetting drivers.
As more information comes out in this case about the bus driver and the tour bus company, more questions arise. Who owns this bus and charter company? Do they have sufficient insurance? What kind of company allows its liability insurance to expire? At this point, this is probably a company without sufficient assets or insurance. This case needs an exceptionally skilled law firm to figure out exactly what happened and who should be held liable. The injured tourists and the families of the deceased tourists in this bus crash have suffered a tremendous loss and deserve to be compensated. From an experienced personal injury attorney’s point of view, this is an exciting and challenging case to pursue and get these victims and their families the compensation they are entitled to and hold the wrongdoers accountable.