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Anti-Lock Brakes Installed But Not Active During Deadly Texas Bus Crash: NTSB

A bus that rolled over and crashed on a Texas highway Saturday, killing eight people, was equipped with an anti-lock braking system but it was not active at the time of the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday.

The bus was not required to ABS because it was made before regulations required the system, and no conclusions have been made as to the cause of the crash at around 11 a.m. CDT in Webb County, NTSB lead investigator Peter Kotowsky told reporters Tuesday.

"The brake system, however, was functioning, and we are continuing to examine the effectiveness in the brake forces that were generated by this system," Kotowsky said.

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The NTSB will interview the driver Wednesday, Kotowsky said. The driver was among more than 44 people injured when the OGA Charters bus crashed on northbound Highway 83.

Seven people were pronounced dead at the scene and an eighth later died at a hospital. The seven pronounced dead at the scene were all ejected from the vehicle, officials have said.

Kotowsky said Tuesday the bus had seat belts but only in the first row, accounting for five seats.

The NTSB obtained company records, state and federal vehicle inspection records, and a record of the driver’s movements the day of the crash. Investigators also retrieved an electronic control module, but it is unknown whether it captured information about the crash, Kotowsky said.

"We gathered a mass of information today and data that we need to sort through,” he said. The highway was closed Tuesday so core samples of the road and other evidence could be collected.

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The bus driver reported for work at 3 a.m. CDT and stopped in Brownsville at 5:30 a.m. and in Zapata at 9 a.m. and began driving at around 9:30 a.m., Kotowsky said, but the investigation into the driver's hours of service that day is not yet complete. Blood and urine samples were taken and will be tested.

Regulations requiring that anti-lock brakes be installed on motor coaches and other large vehicles weren’t put in place until March 1, 1998, and the vehicle was manufactured in mid-1997, Kotowsky said. But ABS was an option and was installed in the bus when it was made. The tires of the vehicle were in "a good state of repair," he said.

Kotowsky also said that while it had been reported that it was raining in the area at the time of the crash, it wasn’t raining but the road surface was wet. It did rain after the crash, he said.