I-35 bus rollover in Texas blamed on driver fatigue

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Police officials of San Marcos, Texas, are saying the cause of an early morning bus crash on northbound Interstate 35 near New Braunfels was due to its driver falling asleep at the wheel. Investigators have ruled out alcohol and believe driver fatigue caused the rollover accident.

Accident reports say the Mares Bus Lines driver nodded off, causing the bus to hit a sign. A sudden driver overcorrection flipped the vehicle onto its side. Police investigators say they do not expect to file charges against the driver.

Twenty-one people, including the 44-year-old driver, were on the vehicle headed northbound on the interstate on a road trip between Dallas and Laredo. Hospital and police reports differ in the number of people injured in the rollover. Area medical facilities claim to have treated 19 passengers, while police say 17 were hurt.

Hospital officials say three passengers remain hospitalized, including a 4-year-old girl who required a leg amputation. At University Medical Center Brackenridge in Austin, a 35-year-old woman was listed in fair condition, while another is in stable condition in San Antonio's University Hospital.

The bus involved in the accident is owned by Mares Bus Lines. The company has been cited numerous times in the past two years for allowing some of its drivers to drive while fatigued, report federal regulators.

The driver who fell asleep at the wheel had prior traffic citations for speeding, improper signaling and failing to show his insurance card.

Bus drivers and other commercial vehicle drivers are limited by state law to maximum 15-hour daily driving shifts with mandatory eight-hour breaks and no more than 70 hours of driving time in seven consecutive days.

Source: Statesman.com, "Driver in San Marcos Bus crash fell asleep, police report says," Claudia Grisales and Ciara O'Rourke, 6 July 2011