The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

April 12, 2013

2 dead, 41 hurt in Texas charter bus accident

Associated Press

IRVING, Texas — Dan Risik was sitting comfortably in his seat Thursday morning, chatting with his friend and looking forward to a day of gambling in Oklahoma.

Seconds later, after the bus veered across a busy Irving freeway and crashed, he was on his side, trapped under a female passenger in a tangled mass of screaming people and blood.

"I couldn't move because there was a lady on top of me and she couldn't move," said Risik, 73, of Fort Worth, Texas. "She was really buckled in there real bad and my foot was caught under her. People were hollering and screaming and there was blood all over the place."

Risik considers himself one of the lucky ones.

Though he suffered a bloody nose and sore back, Risik said he was otherwise unscathed in the Thursday morning bus crash in Irving that left two passengers dead and 41 others injured.

Passengers were transported to five different hospitals. Fifteen of the most seriously injured were taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, which went to "Code Yellow," meaning all hands on deck and ready for casualties, according to Dr. Alex Eastman, interim trauma medical director.

Four were critical and one underwent surgery, he said.

The driver was Lloyd Rieve, 65, of Dallas, said Sgt. Lonny Haschel, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety. He was listed in serious condition at Parkland early Thursday evening, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The Parkland patients ranged in age from 66 to 80. All arrived with multiple injuries, and all were talking, Eastman said.

The bus, operated by Cardinal Coach Lines, and its 44 passengers comprised of mostly retirees and senior citizens had been headed to the Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant, Okla., for a day trip.

According to a flier found at the crash site, the trip was organized by a Hurst, Texas, woman named "Casino Sue" and it cost $10 per person.

"A lot of the people know each other from previous trips," said Risik, who has been on previous such trips. "Others bring friends and family."

Investigators will be looking into the bus company, the driver and road conditions, among other things, Haschel said.

The National Traffic Safety Board also sent two of its investigators, stationed in Arlington, to get information about the wreck.

"There is not a lot of information right now," said Keith Holloway, an NTSB spokesman in Washington. "It depends on what we find, but we may use (the information) as an investigation, or to make recommendations on a relevant safety issue, at some point."

Officials with Cardinal Coach Lines, which is based in Grand Prairie, declined to comment Thursday.

The company's website, however, touts its safety record and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that Cardinal has had no wrecks in the past 24 months. In its last review, the company had a satisfactory rating, which meant the company had no safety deficiencies.

Records kept by the FMCSA show that the Cardinal bus involved in Thursday's wreck was inspected by the Texas Department of Public Safety on April 4 and that the driver was cited for speeding and a driver log book violation.

Neither incident was considered serious enough to warrant an "out of service order" and the company is not considered a "high-risk" carrier, according to the FMCSA.