updated 10/13/2004 1:16:59 PM ET 2004-10-13T17:16:59

A tour bus that crashed after veering off an Arkansas highway would not have been allowed on the road if it had been inspected before the accident, which killed 14 people, federal investigators said Wednesday.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the bus had pre-existing cracks on frame rails that held up its motor in the rear of the bus. However, the agency did not link the cracks to the crash, saying the cause remained under investigation.

Investigators were still looking at whether the driver, Herbert Walters, fell asleep at the wheel. Officials said they planned to subpoena Walters’ Chicago medical records, as well.

The bus that crashed Saturday along Interstate 55 in eastern Arkansas was carrying 30 people from the Chicago area on their semiannual trek to a Mississippi casino. The wreck occurred in a light mist just before dawn, when the bus failed to follow a left-hand curve, left the roadway and flipped. Most of its roof was ripped off by the force of the impact.

Sixteen people were also injured in the accident, many of whom were still being treated at hospitals in Little Rock and Memphis, Tenn. Two remained in critical condition Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the first lawsuit related to the crash was filed in Chicago.

McKinley Jacobs, 71, sued the bus company and the driver’s estate, claiming that negligence, brake problems and excessive speed caused the crash that killed his wife, 67-year-old Fannie Jacobs.

“You could handle it better if it was a natural cause, but this is a tragic situation,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said a 1984 crane accident crushed his legs, and he had depended on his wife to get along ever since.

Elliott Price, attorney for the bus company, had not seen the lawsuit and said he wouldn’t comment.

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