Negligent operation cited in fatal Phoenix bus accident

A Phoenix bus, involved in a fatal Arizona bus accident that claimed six lives last month, was being driven so erratically that several motorists called 911 shortly before it plunged off the freeway and overturned, the Arizona Republic reported.

A 130-page report was released this week by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, detailing several safety violations, including brake problems, poor maintenance and driver logbook violations. The report also said the driver was believed to be going too fast and may have fallen asleep at the wheel.

However, no specific cause of the crash was identified in the report and no citations have been issued, pending a review by the Pinal County Attorney’s Office.

The March 5 accident occurred when the bus crashed into a pickup truck on Interstate 10 as it was traveling to Los Angeles from central Mexico. The bus veered into the median and then back across several lanes, before rolling into a ditch. Six of 22 passengers were killed.

A drug expert concluded the driver was not impaired. However, authorities report he has changed his story several times during interviews with investigators. Motorists reported the bus was speeding, tailgating several semis and driving erratically through traffic.

Police report the bus driver was incapable of reading or speaking English, as required by Arizona law, and did not have his logbook up to date. Documents report that the owner of Tierra Santa, the Los Angeles-area company that owns the bus, tried to take out insurance on the bus after the crash.