Investigators still piecing together bus crash puzzle

Why did bus 5037 fall from I-565?

An exact answer is still far in the future, but new details might provide some insight.

The WAFF 48 Investigators picked up the accident report Tuesday morning. The information it lead us to the focus of this investigators report.

1.7 miles into the trip from Lee High School to Huntsville's tech school, orange paint details the path an orange Celica took, careening into a school bus, apparently a freak accident.

"The driver reports that the vehicle became unstable and hard to control before crossing the path of the also westbound bus," Huntsville Police Chief Rex Reynolds said Monday night.

Using the vehicle identification number listed on the accident report, we checked the Celica's background.

It's a 1990 orange Toyota Celica GT with four previous owners. As of 1999, the odometer read 146,122 miles with no mileage reported since. It's had no previous accidents and no previous problems. NTSB investigators will return in three weeks focusing on the Celica.

"Bring in some experts," NTSB lead investigator Gay Van Etten said Monday night. "Determine exactly what was wrong with that vehicle."

What about the other vehicle involved, bus 5037?

Using the vehicle identification number listed on the accident report, we checked the bus' background. Registered in 2005, it's 1 year, 2 months old. Same bus, same driver involved in another accident January 17, 2006 when a car rear-ended the bus doing minor-to-moderate damage that "could affect operation."

NTSB investigators say the bus was in perfect running condition.

"We did examine the bus for crash worthiness and looked at how the people in the bus were injured, how they got out of the bus," Van Etten said.

Both Huntsville Police and the NTSB are conducting separate investigations, but both hope to benefit from a 3-dimensional recreation of the crash that should be complete within a matter of months.