Preliminary Investigation Sheds Light on Deadly Bus Crash

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – A preliminary investigation of the Nov. 20 bus crash that killed 4 Lee High School students in Alabama suggests that a mechanical problem in the Celica that struck the bus, and not irresponsible driving, is at fault.

Huntsville police spokesman Wendell Johnson said the 17-year-old driver of the Celica might have lost control of his vehicle due to a faulty steering mechanism, causing the car to collide with the bus. The bus hit the concrete railing on the I-565 ramp and crested it, falling 30 feet off the overpass.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will return to Huntsville in three weeks to examine the 1990 Celica for mechanical failure.

Although toxicology reports on the drivers have not yet been released, investigators do not believe that drugs or alcohol had anything to do with the crash.

The investigation will not be complete, however, for approximately another year, at which point a grand jury will review the findings to decide if any criminal charges will be filed.

Investigators believe the bus driver was not wearing a seat belt, which likely explains why he was ejected from the bus when it went over the overpass. The bus driver and one student are still hospitalized.

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