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2 dead, 41 hospitalized after casino-bound bus flips over on Bush Turnpike in Irving

bus turned over

Attorney Dean Gresham is investigating the cause of a bus crash that occurred on April 11, 2013 near Dallas. If you or a loved one is a victim, contact Attorney Dean Gresham immediately to protect your legal rights. There is no charge for the consultation and no fee unless you recover.

Anyone who may have had family or friends on the bus can call authorities for more information at 972-721-4636.

The bus will remain at the scene of the crash for several hours, so commuters who use the northbound turnpike to get home may want to seek an alternate route home, Trooper Lonny Haschel says.

The southbound lanes remain open.

Update at 1:09 p.m.: The National Transportation Safety Board has dispatched two Arlington-based investigators to the crash site, says Washington, D.C.-based spokesman Keith Holloway.

He says they aren’t looking for “anything specific,” but will review Cardinal Coach Line Inc.’s maintenance and safety records.

“We don’t look to point blame,” Holloway says. “We look from a purely safety perspective, if there were issues regarding maintenance. We will not take the bus, but we will document the scene and gather information.”

He says the investigation is expected to take about 12 to 18 months to complete.

The Department of Public Safety has said that no other cars were involved in the accident, which seems to suggest a mechanical failure or driver error led to the crash.

Brigham McCown, former chief counsel for the U.S. Department of Transportation under President George W. Bush, says the agency will conduct its own audit of Cardinal and assist the NTSB in its investigation.

He won’t speculate on the exact cause of today’s crash, but says it could be due to several factors, chief among them “a blown tire or defective brakes” or an “external factor, such as the highway or another motorist.”

But there is one thing he’s sure of: There might not have been deaths and injuries had the bus been equipped with seat belts. And the Department of Transportation does not require them.

“To make that recommendation the Department of Transportation has to do a cost benefit analysis — the benefits have to outweigh the costs,” says McCown, who’s now a transportation consultant based out of Southlake. “It’s too expensive to retrofit all buses. My argument is we can take a phased approach, and all new buses should have seat belts. Although buses are pretty safe, and although 750 million people travel on buses every year, seat belts could reduce injuries and deaths by 77 percent, according to government statistics. That’s a huge number.”

What happened today, he said, “is tragic, and these things can and should be prevented. In this day and age there’s no reason not to have a seat belt on a bus.”

Update at 12:55 p.m.: The southbound lanes of the Bush Turnpike have reopened to traffic.

It’s unclear when the northbound side, where the crash happened, might reopen.

Update at 12:40 p.m. from Eric Aasen at Cardinal’s bus barn in Grand Prairie:

The owner of the bus line remains at the crash scene, but authorities are waiting to speak to him in Grand Prairie.

Robert Hurtado, a special agent with the U.S. Department of Transportation, said the owner has been cooperative so far, but there’s been nothing confirmed yet about the driver or what happened to cause the crash

Hurtado said agents will talk with the owner and review company records including paperwork such as maintenance records and logbooks and driver info.

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, along with TxDOT. An interview with the owner is expected to happen this afternoon, but the timing is up in the air.

Update at 12:15 p.m. from Christina Rosales at the scene and Eden Stiffman at Parkland:

Irving police spokesman John Argumaniz described a chaotic scene immediately after the crash.

He said all patrol and tactical officers were pulled from their usual duties and sent to the crash scene. Dozens of officers and good Samaritans did their best to pull passengers from the wreckage as other emergency personnel arrived. DART police also lent a hand.

In all, there were 41 people taken to area hospitals, according to the Irving Fire Department.

At one point, after many of the injured were taken away, a paramedic broke down in tears and was comforted by an Irving firefighter, our Tom Fox reports.

Now authorities must identify each injured person and determine which hospital there were sent to.

“There’s a lot of anxious families out there, so what were trying to do is get through the passenger list and find out where everybody is going.”

The most seriously injured were taken to Parkland. Alex Eastman, disaster medical director and interim trauma medical director at Parkland, said they received 15 people, with four of them in critical condition. The driver was among the victims to Parkland, all of whom were conscious and talking when they were admitted.

All the patients are between 66 and 80 years old.

Fourteen other patients were taken to Baylor in Irving, our Avi Selk reports from the hospital. All of them had moderate injuries, and most were expected to be released today.