The trucking company whose tractor-trailer collided with a Greyhound bus in New Mexico last week has a history of crashes and safety violations, a pair of lawsuits filed by survivors of the deadly crash contend.
According to CBS News, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs suing JAG Transportation of Fresno, California, says federal safety data shows the company’s commercial trucks were involved in three crashes in the last two years. The previous two crashes resulted in two injuries but no fatalities, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration data indicates.
Investigators say the Aug. 30 crash occurred when the tractor-trailer experienced a tire failure that caused the driver, Elisara Taito, to lose control of the vehicle. The truck crossed the I-40 median from the eastbound lanes and collided with the Greyhound bus, which was traveling westbound to Phoenix and Los Angeles.
According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the crash killed eight people and injured most of the 49 passengers aboard the Greyhound. At least 15 people remain hospitalized, including 10 at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, where three of the victims remain in intensive care with injuries ranging from serious to critical.
The complaints filed by the survivors raise concerns about the trucking company’s inspection and maintenance of the tires on its 17-truck fleet. According to CBS, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is intensifying its examination of the tires from the tractor-trailer involved in the crash, sending them to Washington D.C. for further analysis.
Mr. Taito told CBS News that he was driving produce from California to Tennessee when the truck blew a tire. “Then it just locked up,” he told CBS.
With the truck in the path of the oncoming Greyhound bus, Mr. Taito said he tried to do everything to avoid a collision. “As soon as it happened I almost just knew that I was going to die. I was surprised that I made it,” he told CBS, adding the entire incident happened in a flash.
The two survivors who filed lawsuits have named Mr. Taito as a defendant in addition to JAG Transportation, according to CBS.