NTSB Releases Preliminary Findings On Fatal New Mexico Bus Crash
McKinley County, New Mexico – The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a preliminary report of their ongoing investigation into the tragic fatal accident involving a semi and a Greyhound passenger bus near Albuquerque, New Mexico, back in August. The crash that killed the motorcoach driver along with 7 passengers, and injured scores more, occurred on August 30th along Interstate 40 in New Mexico near the Arizona border.
Tire Failure Confirmed
Initial reports immediately following the accident indicated the front left tractor tire blew, but the NTSB said a further investigation would determine if in fact that was the case. According to the preliminary report released today, the NTSB concluded the tire in question “experienced a sudden air loss” which led driver of the semi, 35-year-old Elisara Taito, to lose control of the vehicle. According to the report the effects of the tire failure were catastrophic. The report described the event like this:
A 2016 Freightliner truck tractor in combination with a 2017 Utility refrigerated semitrailer, was traveling east in the right lane of Interstate 40 (I-40) near Thoreau, in McKinley County, New Mexico, when the 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 motorcoach.
Both vehicles were severely damaged (see figures 2 and 3). NTSB investigators conducted detailed postcrash inspections. No mechanical defects were found. The tire carcass from the left steer axle of the truck-tractor was shipped to the NTSB materials laboratory for additional examination. Investigators are also evaluating maintenance records for the combination vehicle.
Driver Impairment Analyzed
In the days following the crash, details about Taito’s criminal history began to surface related to his prior drug possession convictions. It led some to question whether or not Taito might have been impaired at the time of the accident. The NTSB today released its conclusive findings from Taito’s toxicology report. Taito’s toxicology report came back negative. The same was true of the bus driver who died in the crash.
Still Under Investigation
The NTSB is continuing to evaluate motor carrier operations of Fresno-California based carrier Jag Transportation, which Taito was employed by at the time of the crash, along with the driver performance as related to the crash. For both drivers, records will be examined for driver qualifications, medical qualifications, training, and experience. Electronic driver logs and automatic onboard recorder devices are also being reviewed.
In its preliminary report the NTSB stressed, “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.”
VIDEO: Alarming Details Emerge About Criminal History of Truck Driver In Fatal New Mexico Semi/Bus Crash