Charter bus in crash had not been inspected in two years
LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- The charter bus that crashed and injured 35 people - many of them high school students - had not been inspected by the state in at least two years, authorities said.
Five people remain hospitalized late Wednesday with non-life threatening injuries.
Investigators say a preliminary investigation shows a blown left front tire caused the charter bus carrying JCPS students from Waggener High School to crash, injuring dozens. The students were returning from a college visit to Eastern Kentucky University.
The crash along westbound Interstate 64 was captured on dashboard camera video by truck driver Lynn Wehling. That video is now proving to be helpful to investigators, as well as reminding crash victims what they lived through.
"As soon as the tire popped we all looked up, we were all surprised by that and then we saw the median coming and as soon as I saw the median coming I thought we are going to go through it or over it," said Brendan O'Hern, who'll be a junior at Waggener in the fall.
Instead the bus made contact with the wall.
"When I got off the bus I saw just a few people lying on the ground crying. The person in front of me seemed to be bleeding from their face," said O'Hern.
Officer DeWayne Koch with Kentucky Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, which is assisting LMPD on the investigation, said the bus has not been inspected in at least two years.
Koch says CVE officers only do "random inspections" if an officer notices a safety or traffic violation.
"As far as inspections, that type of bus is not mandated by the federal government or the state government for a state or federal officer to do an inspection on it yearly."
The company, Commonwealth Bus Service, is required to have annual inspections, Koch says, but those can be done by a certified mechanic.
We asked Koch if his officers had seen the maintenance or inspection records.
"No I have not and at least at this point our officers have not been able to locate it," said Koch.
Federal records show the last time Commonwealth Bus Service and Transportation Inc. underwent a federal inspection was 2006. The company was given a "satisfactory" rating. Commonwealth owns 14 buses and employees 14 drivers. Our calls seeking comment were not returned.
This particular bus is leased to Commonwealth by a private owner, Koch says. CVE officers have not yet received and have been unable to locate maintenance or inspection records so far.
Koch says investigators plan to bring in a tire expert to take a closer look at the tire.
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