DALLAS (AP) – The driver involved in a fatal North Texas bus crash told authorities he may have blacked out in the moments before the bus careened off the roadway and struck a concrete barrier, according to a report released Monday.
A preliminary report by the Texas Department of Public Safety said driver Loyd Rieve, 65, indicated he may have lost consciousness. The report found no defect with the Cardinal Coach Line bus. Instead, it cited Rieve’s failure to maintain his lane and his inattention while at the wheel as factors that contributed to the April 11 in Irving.
The report shows Rieve tested negative for drugs or alcohol.
The bus was taking a group of senior citizens to a casino in Oklahoma.
Two people were killed and more than 40 hurt in the immediate aftermath of the crash. A third passenger died Sunday.
Rieve did not respond to a phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment Monday.
The day after the crash, Rieve’s wife, Gail, told the AP that her husband suffered three broken ribs in the accident and remembered little about it.
“He came up on the barricade thing,” she said. “The next thing he remembers is being in front of the bus.”
A phone message left with Cardinal Coach Line Monday was not returned.
Alice Stanley, 83, Paula Hahn, 69, and Sue Taylor, 81, were killed in the crash.
Stanley died Sunday from injuries sustained in the crash that included multiple fractured vertebrae, broken ribs and a crushed sternum, said Quentin Brogdon, a Dallas attorney who filed a lawsuit on her behalf against Rieve and Cardinal Coach Line. Stanley had been hospitalized since the accident, and her arm had been amputated, Brogdon said.
Brogdon said the DPS report raises as many questions about Cardinal Coach Line as it does Rieve.
“What did they know about his condition?” Brogdon said. “Was there something in his physicals that should have put them on notice that (an accident) could occur?”
According to court records, Rieve was driving for another company in 1998 when he struck and killed a man who was trying to render aid at an accident scene on a highway near Dallas.
A Dallas County grand jury declined to indict Rieve on a charge of negligent homicide stemming from the collision, but Rieve and his employer still faced two lawsuits claiming they were negligent.
One lawsuit, filed by the family of the man who was killed, resulted in a jury finding Central West Motor Stages Inc. of Grand Prairie negligent for employing Rieve. However, the jury awarded no damages, deciding the Samaritan, 22-year-old Chad Rosell of Detroit Lakes, Minn., was largely at fault.
Gail Rieve told the AP that the bus struck Rosell because he jumped onto the road and the vehicle’s brakes were faulty.
“Loyd did everything he could to save those people on the bus and that young man,” she said.
Associated Press reporter Danny Robbins contributed to this report.
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