The National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report on the fatal Aug. 30 crash involving a Greyhound bus and a semitrailer in western New Mexico found no mechanical defects to either vehicle and neither driver had consumed drugs or alcohol.
However, investigators have sent the truck’s tire blamed for the crash to the NTSB materials laboratory for more testing. They are also continuing to look at maintenance records for the truck, and the qualifications, medical records, training and experience of both drivers.
In the days after the crash near Thoreau, New Mexico State Police said the tread on the left front tire separated from its casing, causing the truck going east on Interstate 40 to hurtle across the median and into oncoming traffic. The truck then crashed into the Greyhound bus carrying 48 passengers.
Eight people, including the bus driver, were killed and a passenger prematurely went into labor, delivering twins at a local hospital shortly afterward. Several days later, one of those babies died. Thirty-eight other passengers were injured.
According to the NTSB report, the Jag Transportation truck was hauling produce from California to Memphis, Tenn., when the left front tire “experienced a sudden air loss.” The 35-year-old driver “lost control of the vehicle, entered the 33-foot-wide depressed earthen median, jackknifed, and continued into the westbound lanes – striking a 2015 MCI motor coach.”
The speed limit in the area is 75 mph.
Investigators say all seats on the bus have lap and shoulder belts, but they are still looking into how many passengers were using them. Electronic driver logs and recording devices are also being reviewed.
The report is preliminary and other factors in the crash could be discovered throughout the rest of the investigation.
“All aspects of the crash remain under investigation as the NTSB focuses on determining the probable cause, with the intent of issuing safety recommendations to prevent similar crashes,” the report states. “We are working in conjunction with the New Mexico State Police, the New Mexico Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to compile a complete and accurate account of the crash.”