Police are saying that a tire blowout may have caused the deadly tour bus crash on I-390 that killed two people and injured several others—leaving at least three of them with severe injuries—on Sunday. The bus, which had left Washington DC, was headed to Niagara Falls. As of midday Monday, media sources were reporting that 20 people remain hospitalized. Injuries include internal injuries, fractures, and head wounds, which are consistent with injuries from a bus accident.
The bus driver reportedly lost control of the bus at around 4pm in the Avoca area. The vehicle left the road before going down an incline and tipping over in a wooded area.
Today, at a news conference, New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said that driver fatigue and alcohol are not likely factors in the crash. Also, in addition to the driver’s log being “proper” the front tires on the bus had just been replaced with new ones in the last couple of months. It was one of these tires that appears to have blown out.
The two passengers that died, Shail Khanna, 66, and Sakina Kiazar, 52, and the 34 other passengers on the bus were with tour group from India. The two women were seated behind the driver’s seat, which was the only seat on the bus with a safety belt. Tour buses do not have to have seat belts for passengers.
According to state Department of Transportation staff, the bus passed its last inspection on June 28 and has a good safety record. Bedore Tours was given a “satisfactory” (which is the top) rating by federal inspectors last year.
Tire blowouts can prove fatal—especially if they cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle. A tire manufacturer can be held liable if its tire’s defects caused a DC traffic crash that resulted in injuries or deaths. If it was the driver who failed to replace or properly maintain the tires or a repair company that didn’t correctly check to make sure that a tire was in proper driving condition, either party could also be held liable.
In an accident such as the one discussed here, other possible liable parties—defending on the evidence found—might also include the tour operator, the tour bus driver, or the bus company owner.
Trip normal till tire blew out, Rochester bus driver says after I-390 crash, Democrat and Chronicle, July 18, 2011
Tour bus from D.C. crashes in N.Y.; 2 dead, The Washington Post, July 17, 2011
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Frederick County, School Bus Crash Involving Injuries Went Unreported, Say Maryland State Police, Maryland Accident Law Blog, October 28, 2010
Baltimore Personal Injury News: Six Hurt in Montgomery County Car-School Bus Accident on I-270, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, June 3, 2011
Maryland Traffic Injury News: Car Hits City Bus in Baltimore County; 12 Passengers Hurt in Crash, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, May 28, 2011