Going 30, Heard ‘Plop’ Before Bus Crash, Driver Says
The driver of a tour bus that crashed killing 18 people on board says he was driving 30 m.p.h. at the time of the accident and heard a “plop” just before the bus went out of control, federal officials said today.
Jim Burnett, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said driver Ernst Klimeck also said the bus was in third gear when it spun out of control, overturned and crashed upright in a river near Walker, Calif. Twenty-two passengers were injured.
Burnett said board investigators had interviewed the driver after his discharge from the hospital Sunday. He said the board has not determined a probable cause of the accident.
There has been no independent confirmation of the speed of the bus, and the contention that it was in third gear cannot be confirmed because the bus has automatic transmission, Burnett said. He added that investigators have found nothing that could have caused the sound Klimeck described.
Burnett said the ongoing investigation was concentrating on the driver; the mechanical condition of the vehicle, which has turned up nothing significant so far, and highway conditions at the time.
Driver fired by previous employer. Page 4.