Pieces of the Puzzle 

Investigation continues into cause of fatal bus crash.

No verdict yet: That was the word from Gary Van Etten, chief investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), as he prepared to take his leave last weekend from the scene of the October 9th tour-bus accident near Marion, Arkansas, which left 14 Chicagoans dead and another 15 seriously wounded.

A week's worth of intensive scrutiny by Van Etten's six-member NTSB team did turn up some of what he called "pieces of the puzzle." These included the discovery, through laser analysis, that the roof of the 1988-model motor coach that went off-road and capsized at 5 a.m. on the way to the Tunica casinos had been completely coated over with a new aluminum "skin."

That refurbishing turned out, on further investigation, to have been the result of a traffic mishap suffered by the bus near Herscher, Illinois, in March 2002. The vehicle's rear two axles were found to have suffered some measurable displacement at some point, and "cracks in the frame rails" were also discovered.

All in all, said Van Etten, "The vehicle should not have been on the road." He told reporters the vehicle had last undergone -- and evidently passed -- a required vehicular inspection in the Chicago area in August of this year but had not been subject to other annual inspections since the last one in 2001.

The vehicle left 64 feet of tire marks, including 17 feet of skid marks at the point where it left the I-55 roadway, to land upside-down, with the roof peeled off and face down alongside the bus itself.

Other information released by Van Etten had to do with the history and habits of the vehicle's driver, Hubert Walters, who was among those killed in the crash. Walters, brother of touring-company owner Roosevelt Walters, worked part-time for both his brother's operation and another touring line, said Van Etten, who reported, among other facts, that Walters had kept "extremely incomplete" logs and had been unused to overnight driving.

Further, Walters was found to have been treated recently for glaucoma and had a condition attached to his commercial driver's license requiring side mirrors on any vehicle he drove.

Van Etten said that suspect areas for further investigation centered around issues concerning the driver or the vehicle's condition or possible irregularities on the part of the company, Walters Charter and Tours. He could give no target date for any definitive findings by the NTSB, nor was there word at press time concerning a final report by the Arkansas State Police, who are conducting a parallel investigation.

E-mail: baker@memphisflyer.com

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.


Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Blogs

News Blog

BREAKING: Fairgrounds TDZ Wins State Approval

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Music Video Monday: Fingertrick

From My Seat

Gameday Gratitude

We Saw You

Indie Film Fest, Grilled Cheese Fest, Adapt-A-Door and more!

Tiger Blue

Tigers 109, Yale 102 (2 OT)

Tiger Blue

Tigers 28, SMU 18

Beyond the Arc

Grizzlies Defeat Kings 112-104

Hungry Memphis

Zopita's on the Square to open Nov. 19

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Jackson Baker

  • Post-Mortem, Pre-Birth

    On the surface, the GOP still rules in Tennessee, but the election showed evidence of Democratic revival.
    • Nov 16, 2018
  • Last Stop, Memphis!

    On the long campaign’s final night, most of the major candidates were working Shelby County.
    • Nov 8, 2018
  • Election 2018: Winners, Losers, and Close Calls

    Locally, the blue wave still had power, though most Democratic challengers to incumbent Republicans fell short; statewide, the red wall remained stout in wins by Lee and Blackburn; the Council's referenda all go down to defeat. (ORIGINAL ARTICLE RESTORED.)
    • Nov 7, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation