The driver of a tractor-trailer that crashed into a bus and killed four college students on Interstate 35 in southern Oklahoma reportedly told investigators that he was distracted. The driver, Russell Staley, was traveling northbound on Sept. 26 before crossing a 90-foot median into the southbound lanes. The tractor-trailer cashed into a bus carrying the women’s softball team from North Central Texas College in Gainesville. Capt. Ronnie Hampton, who is with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, said at a news conference: “We know the semi was in the median for quite some time. He made a statement that he was distracted in the vehicle.”
The investigation of this incident could take months, according to Capt. Hampton. He says the investigation will include a review of the driver’s log books and precise measurements at the accident scene. It’s significant that the collision took place about 9 p.m. in dry and clear weather. Four students were killed and 11 passengers and the bus driver were injured. In the crash, the tractor-trailer crushed the side of the 2008 Champion Motor Coach, which was carrying the students.
The truck, a 2013 Peterbilt, showed no signs of braking or trying to avoid crossing the median, according to Robert Sumwalt, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). It was significant that investigators didn’t find any skid marks on a slight curve where the truck was being driven. Mr. Sumwalt said:
There was no indication of skidding or braking or evasive maneuvers. The truck did not follow the curve. We intend to find out why the truck did not follow the roadway.
The driver of the 2013 Peterbilt truck worked for Quickway Transportation Inc., located in Nashville, Tenn. Quickway, which operates about 300 trucks, according to its website, issued a statement offering condolences and saying that the company was cooperating with the investigation. Before the crash, Quickway had a good overall safety record in comparison to most trucking companies, according to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
For each of five publicly available categories tracked by the agency, including moving violations, Quickway was ranked better than average and below the threshold that would be considered a safety risk. In each of the five categories, there were no serious violations. This appears to be a classic case of a truck driver being distracted for some reason. Sadly, the consequences were tragic.
Source: Insurance Journal
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