Penwell, TX- Slick roads may have played a role in a freak accident involving a prison bus and train in West Texas which left ten people dead and at least five people injured Wednesday morning.
CBS reports that the prison bus, carrying 12 prisoners and 3 prison staff members, hit an icy patch on the I-20, causing the bus to go out of control. The bus then careened down a steep embankment landing on a set of train tracks where it was struck by a freight train.
Eight prisoners, the bus driver and a corrections officer was killed. Five prisoners and another corrections officer were critically injured and taken the hospital in Odessa.
“It’s with a heavy heart that we mourn the loss of those killed and injured this morning in a tragic accident. Their loved ones will be in our thoughts and prayers,” Brad Livingston, executive director for the Department of Criminal Justice said according to CBS.
According to authorities, the prisoners were cuffed together at the wrists, but did not have leg restraints. Like most buses, there were no seat belts on the bus with the exception of the driver’s seat.
Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson told the Star-Telegram that shortly after the bus went over the overpass another truck lost control in the same spot. There was also an earlier accident in the area which was being investigated by an officer. That officer said the bus “flew” of the overpass.
Odessa Fire Battalion Chief Kavin Tinney told the Star-Telegram that this was the worst accident he has seen.
Despite the collision, none of the cars on the train derailed. The car that sustained the most damage was labeled UPS and left packages scattered up and down the tracks.
The National Traffic Safety Board will conduct their own investigation of the collision.
Such accident often give rise to questions about the safety of buses especially in regards to seat belts. Bus collisions don’t happen nearly as often as motor vehicle accidents.
According to 2009 data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration there were 212 fatal bus accidents throughout the U.S. That is small number compared to 18,315 fatal auto crashed that occurred in the same year. So, basically, you are still safer on a bus with no seat belts than in a car.
Like car collisions, the FMCSA states that driver error or distraction are the primary cause of 15 out of 19 bus accidents. As for this particular accident it is too soon to determine the exact cause and who is at fault.
Accidents such as these leave the victims and surviving family members in a state of confusion. They have so much on their minds already and that includesworry over how they are going to cover these unexpected medical and funeral expenses. Speaking with an accident attorney like Matt Tucker with Tucker IP will give an accident victim direction and the information they need to decide what they should do to get the compensation they need for their accident costs.
 

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