Local, federal authorities investigate fatal Texas bus crash

A damaged OGA Charters bus is hauled away after a fatal rollover on Saturday, May 14, 2016, south of the Dimmit-Webb County line on U.S. 83 North in Texas. (Danny Zaragoza/The Laredo Morning Times via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

LAREDO, Texas (AP) — Federal investigators and local authorities are working to determine what caused a charter bus to crash in far South Texas, killing eight people and injuring 44 others in a one-vehicle rollover.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators arrived Sunday in Laredo and will continue their work Monday. The agency will look at the operations of the charter bus company as part of its investigation, and it has requested inspection and maintenance records and examined the bus and the scene, spokesman Keith Holloway said.

Determining the cause could take months, he said.

Meanwhile, a Texas state trooper said Sunday that the state Department of Public Safety is conducting an investigation separate from the NTSB.

Sgt. Johnny Hernandez said the bus driver remains hospitalized with major injuries and has not yet been interviewed by police.

The OGA Charters bus crashed Saturday north of Laredo. Webb County Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ricardo Rangel told the Laredo Morning Times the bus was heading to a casino in Eagle Pass, about 125 miles northwest of Laredo. Officials say the deceased ranged in age from 52 to 61.

State police have said it was raining Saturday morning but it was uncertain if that was a factor in the crash that occurred just before 11:30 a.m.

According to federal online records, OGA Charters, based in San Juan, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, has two buses and the Motor Carrier Safety Administration had it listed with a “satisfactory” rating in May 2014.

OGA Charters, which did not respond to requests for comment, had twice been ordered by Louisiana state inspectors in 2015 to take one of its buses off the road to fix brake and emergency exit problems, MCSA records show.

Regulators ordered OGA Charters to sideline the bus in May 2015 because of brake problems and again in August of last year when they were getting worse, according to the records.

It was not immediately clear if that was same charter bus that crashed Saturday or what steps the company took to fix the problems with its sidelined bus between inspections.

Records noted that the company had reported no crashes in the last two years prior to Saturday. But six driver and vehicle inspections since 2014 found 15 total violations, ranging from driver records and hours they were on the road, to vehicle maintenance problems.

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