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Texas Warned Bus Company in 2002

From Associated Press

The company being investigated after one of its buses burned during a Hurricane Rita evacuation, killing 23 elderly passengers, was warned in 2002 about inadequate inspection and maintenance records, state records show.

Global Limo Inc. failed to test employees for use of alcohol or controlled substances, failed to keep records of vehicle inspections and maintenance, and did not retain proof of brake inspectors’ qualifications, according to Department of Public Safety records released Wednesday.

The company was told to comply with those regulations, but no enforcement action was taken. Global’s owner, James Maples, told the Texas Department of Transportation a month after the April 2002 review that he had made the changes. The report was published Wednesday in the Dallas Morning News.

Investigators say the Sept. 23 bus fire may have been caused by mechanical problems, possibly with the brakes, and fueled by passengers’ oxygen tanks. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

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Global’s lawyer, Mark Cooper, did not return a phone call from Associated Press. He told the newspaper that he would not comment on the state records.

The 2002 review followed complaints by three people who said they had experienced or witnessed unsafe conditions.

The bus that burned last week had gone out of service in July after its registration expired, but was allowed back on the road because of a waiver signed by Gov. Rick Perry to aid relief efforts.


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