Four members of the North Central Texas College softball team of Gainesville, Texas, were killed in a bus crash on September 26, 2014. An 18-wheeler driver allegedly crashed into the mid-sized bus the team was traveling in at about 9 p.m. on Interstate 35 in Murray County, Oklahoma. The driver of the semi-truck was charged with four counts of manslaughter, following a 9-month investigation. According to a report from the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB), the cause of the crash was most likely the bus driver’s failure to control his vehicle due to incapacitation probably caused by the use of synthetic cannabinoids. The bus driver reportedly took his own life on January 27, 2017, about three months before his trial was set to begin. In November 2017 news, the parents of one of the softball players killed, Jaiden Pelton, asks for safer buses. According to authorities, Pelton was ejected from the bus.
The bus Pelton had been traveling in was examined by an automotive engineer, who has pointed out that the design is inferior to the types of federal requirements on cars and trucks. The bus seems to be constructed of a laminate material more fragile than wood. Industry experts say that medium-sized buses often have no structural safety requirements, and they don’t prevent occupants from being ejected.
The NTSB has made it known that, when it comes to medium-sized buses, there are no requirements as far as crashworthiness or occupant compartment structural integrity. The organization has repeatedly asked for a change in federal standards, to protect occupants of buses. Improved roof strength and window glazing, for example, could save lives.
Even after 13 people traveling in a medium-sized church bus were in a fatal bus crash in March 2017 in South Texas, no changes are forthcoming.