Bastrop Bus Accident Lawyer
Bastrop Senior Center Bus Accident Lawyer
Shortly after 2:00 p.m. on March 7, 2017 a charter bus belonging to Dallas-headquartered Echo Tours & Charters was struck by a CSX freight train in Biloxi, MS. According to on-scene rescue personnel, at least three passengers on the bus were killed in the accident with an additional thirty-five passengers suffering injuries that required transportation to area hospitals. A fourth passenger died later at a local hospital.
The tour bus was reported to have been chartered by the Bastrop Senior Center and that the passengers appeared to be residents of Bastrop or Lockhart, both located about an hour southeast of Austin. Family members of the tour bus passengers were reported as having said that the bus had left Bastrop Sunday afternoon and was due to return on Saturday (March 11).
According to witnesses, the bus had either stalled on the railroad tracks that parallel Main Street due to engine problems or had become stuck on the tracks due to an unusually shallow road grade. Biloxi fire and police sources are reported to have stated that there had been other accidents at the same location where trucks or long wheelbase vehicles had become stuck on the tracks and were struck by trains.
Citing information obtained from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Austin television station KXAN reported that tour buses belonging to Dallas-based Echo Tours & Charters LP had been involved in six accidents in the past two years. One of those accidents resulted in at least one injury and five required the vehicle to be towed away. According to the FMCSA, Echo Tours & Charters employs 169 drivers and operates 113 vehicles from locations in Dallas, Houston, Waco, and Tyler.
Over this same two-year period, KXAN reported that there were 24 traffic or safety violations charged to the company’s drivers, or the company itself, including:
- Driver was not licensed to operate that specific type of motor vehicle
- Driver using a hand-held mobile telephone while the vehicle was in motion with passengers on board
- Driver failed to obey a traffic control device and/or traffic sign
- Driving in excess of posted speed limit
- Equipment problems related to brakes, windshield, and emergency exits
It is unknown if the driver of the bus had been previously cited or was one of the drivers mentioned by the FMCSA.
According to a statement attributed to CSX, a freight train consisting of three locomotives and 52 freight cars (27 loaded) was traveling west to east from New Orleans en route to Mobile, AL when it struck a chartered bus carrying about 50 passengers and a single driver. It is not known if the CSX freight train appeared to be following the speed restrictions for a train passing through a populated area or if it was braking at the time that it struck the bus.
A Google Maps ® “street view” image dated “4/2013” of the accident scene demonstrates the railroad crossing to have been clearly marked and protected by an active crossing guard consisting of flashing red signal lights, an audible alarm, and automatic crossing barriers. Pavement markings indicating safe stopping distances are also clearly visible, as is a black on yellow diamond-shaped sign warning of “Low Ground Clearance.” A review of the news footage and still photographs from the accident scene do not seem to suggest that there were any significant obstructions to either the bus driver’s or the train crew’s vision.
Although an “official” opinion as to the cause of the accident will not be available for many months, currently available information seems to indicate that there are several inferences that seem to be supported:
- The bus driver was attempting to make a legal crossing of the railroad tracks while there was no reason to believe that a train may have been approaching.
- The driver either did not see the “Low Ground Clearance” warning sign or saw the sign but neglected to heed its warning.
- Some bus passengers were apparently trying to exit the bus via an emergency exit in the seconds prior to impact.
- Since there appears to have been nothing that would have obstructed the train crew’s vision, the witnesses reports that the train pushed the bus several hundred feet after impact could indicate that A) the train crew did not see the bus until relatively shortly before impact and/or B) the train was traveling faster than the “official” rate set by CSX policy.
Regardless of the final report that will be issued later by investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, Mississippi law clearly states that those who have been injured due to the negligence of another have the right to be compensated for their injuries and for the deaths of their family members. Those wishing to arrange a free, no-obligation, review of a possible legal action regarding this accident can contact the Echo Tours & Charters accident lawyer at the Doan Law Firm of Austin by calling (512) 806-0000 to arrange a free consultation regarding the Echo Tours & Charters bus accident.
The Doan Law Firm 100 Congress Avenue Suite 2000 Austin, Texas 78701 (512) 806-0000