Companies Linked to Texas Bus Crash Told to Shut Down

August 12, 2008

Companies linked to a bus that crashed in Texas and killed 17 people, most of them from Vietnamese Catholic congregations on their way to a religious festival, pose an “imminent hazard” and must cease commercial operations, federal officials have said.

Inspectors also took another bus out of service in Carthage, Mo., said National Transportation Safety Board spokeswoman Debbie Hersman. The bus failed inspection. It was registered to Iguala BusMex Inc., the unlicensed company that also owned the bus in the Texas crash.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued its cease-operations order to Iguala BusMex and Angel Tours Inc., of which Angel De La Torre is owner and president. A second order issued to him finds that his “activities in connection with motor carrier operations pose an ‘imminent hazard’ to the public.”

Angel Tours’ voicemail system was full Aug. 10 and not accepting new messages.

The bus in the Texas crash mashed into a guardrail and skidded off a highway early on Aug. 8 near the Oklahoma border, killing 12 people at the scene and five others who died at hospitals.

The passengers, most of them from three Vietnamese Catholic congregations in Houston, were traveling to Missouri for an annual religious festival.

Authorities have also released the driving record of the bus driver, 52-year-old Barrett Wayne Broussard. Since 2001, he has been cited by police three times — once for driving while intoxicated and twice for speeding.

His license was suspended from for nearly two months in 2001 as a result of the DWI conviction in Harris County, Hersman said. His speeding violations came in 2007 and 2004. Broussard also failed roadside inspections twice in the past year, both times resulting in his vehicle being taken out of service for driver logbook violations.

Robert Accetta, the NTSB member leading the investigation, said officials were still fact-finding. An investigator will travel to Houston with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to find information about Iguala BusMex and Angel Tours.

Lt. Bob Fair of the Sherman Police Department said his agency is finishing inspections of the bus. He declined to comment on whether any criminal charges would be filed.

Authorities said the vehicle’s right front tire, which blew out, had been retreaded in violation of safety standards.

Ana Ley reported from Houston. Associated Press writers Jeff Carlton and Matt Curry in Dallas contributed to this report.

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