Following the deadly crash of the Americanos USA bus crash south of San Antonio which killed Christina Lozano Campos, (62) of Lewisville, Texas and Efrain Cominquez-Valenzuela of Brownsville, Texas and which injured at least 40 others, investigators are indicating that the drive shaft to the bus may have broken and caused the deadly crash.
The bus had been on the interstate about an hour when the passengers heard a loud noise and felt the bus flip around before toppling on its side in a grassy median on Interstate 37. “I think we did a 180. We flipped and I was out the window,” said Daryl Champagne, a 17-year-old San Antonio high school senior who was on his way to South Padre Island with two classmates on spring break.
DPS Trooper Jason Reyes said the cause of the accident remained under investigation, but there was no initial indication the driver, 47-year-old Irma Morado, was impaired. Investigators suspect equipment failure may have caused the crash, said DPS spokesman Tom Vinger, though officials said the tires appeared intact.
Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Tela Mange said that although findings were preliminary, and that the investigation was ongoing, the early investigation is revealing that a broken drive shaft likely caused the Americanos USA bus headed to Mexico from San Antonio veer wildly on a Texas highway before flipping over, killing two passengers and injuring at least 40 others on board.
The drive shaft transfers power from the engine to the wheels of the bus. The drive shaft is believed to have fallen off before the Americanos USA bus careened from the right lane toward the median and spun wildly. Bus drive shafts rarely break and completely fall off, said Joe Pemberton, whose Glendale, Ariz.-based company, Motorcoach Training & Development Inc., trains and certifies bus mechanics. Newer buses are equipped with a safety strap designed to catch a broken shaft so that it doesn’t completely destabilize the bus. But such devices can fail, and if one does, the shaft can snag on the pavement and turn the bus over, Pemberton said. If the drive shaft breaks and falls off and snags the pavement, “It would act like a pole vaulter,” Pemberton said. There is no indication yet as to whether this bus had the safety strap, or if so, what the condition of that strap was.
Most bus companies inspect the drive shaft about every 10,000 miles as part of maintenance, Pemberton said. According to Bonnie Bastian, a spokeswoman for FirstGroup America, the parent company of Dallas-based Greyhound Lines Inc., the bus underwent its regularly scheduled maintenance the day before the crash.
With these developments, the focus of the investigation will probably begin to shift to look at the thoroughness of the maintenance work the company does in general on all of its buses as well as the maintenance history of this particular truck.
The obligations bus companies such Americanos USA and Greyhound Bus lines have to their customers includes the obligations to conduct thorough maintenance inspections and to repair or to replace those parts of the vehicle which need to be repaired, particularly when such issues could reasonably affect the safety of passengers on the bus. Certainly, this obligation would include the obligation to have safety straps installed on the drive shaft and to regularly inspect and to maintain those straps so that they can do what they are intended to do in the event a drive shaft fails.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a bus accident, we recommend that you hire an attorney to represent you. The bus company will take action to protect its interests including immediately hiring lawyers and investigators. You need someone who is trained and experienced in dealing with these cases that will fight for your rights. We are experienced in thorough investigation of many accident types, and our lawyers can call on specialized resources to determine whether negligence caused your bus crash.
Contact Rachel Montes at Montes Law Group, PC, (214) 522-9401 for counsel after any type of bus or other mass transit accident. Particularly because Greyhound has its principal office in Dallas, these cases tend to end up being handled out of the Dallas area regardless of where the wreck actually occurred. Our firm is located in Las Colinas (Irving), Texas, and we have handled other bus accident cases, including cases against Greyhound all across Texas and the United States. We are well equipped to pursue compensation in these cases.. If you communicate best in Spanish, or have other specific needs, just let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you. Visit our website at www.MontesLawGroup.com for more information about our firm.