NEW STANTON, Pa. (KDKA) – NTSB investigators said there were no seat belts on the motor coach bus that was involved in a deadly Pennsylvania Turnpike accident.
NTSB board member Jennifer Homendy said the coach bus that was involved, from Z&D Tour, was carrying 56 passengers and a driver. It had no lap-shoulder belts.
When it comes to investigating the accident, Homendy says the NTSB’s priorities are different from those of state police’s.
She says NTSB investigators are looking at three factors — “man, machine and the environment” — in hopes of improving safety nationwide.
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While it’s only day one of the complex investigation, she says she does know that PennDOT salted the road. Investigators will continue to look at road construction, road design and how the road was treated.
“We have issued recommendation after recommendation to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to have lap shoulder belts on motor coaches and other vehicles,” says Homendy.
“Those haven’t been implemented. Yet we continue to see accidents where passengers are ejected.”
Five people were killed in the crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike early Sunday morning. Sixty others were sent to the hospital.
The driver of the bus, 58-year-old Shuang Qing Feng of Flushing, New York, was thrown from the bus and died at the scene. With the bus now on its side, state police say it was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. The impact threw two passengers from the bus.
Eileen Aria, 35, of the Bronx, New York, and 9-year-old Jaremy Vazquez of Brooklyn, New York, were also pronounced dead at the scene.
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Homendy went on to meeting with families of the victims is the toughest part of her job.
“It’s hard when you see accident after accident — tough for investigators, too — when you see accident after accident when a death or serious injury could have been prevented by a seat belt, lap shoulder belt in particular,” she says.