NTSB final report on Lee bus crash not expected by end of year

NTSB final report on Lee bus crash not expected by end of year

By Jeanie Powell
WAFF 48 News Reporter

There are new developments in the investigation into the Lee High School bus crash.

I learned the Lee High case is not on the National Transporatation Safety Board's agenda for the remaineder of this year.

On the year anniversary, WAFF 48 News was told by NTSB investigators they finished their reports.

Those reports were handed off for review in Washington.

NTSB spokespersons set late summer of 2008 as a possible date that final report might be released.

When late summer came, we were told late fall.

Now, in November, we're hearing summer of 2009.

November 2006:  A Lee High School bus careened off Interstate-565, killing four students and seriously injuring many more.

In August 2007, a Minneapolis bridge collapse killed 13 and injured more than 100.

The final report on the bridge collapse is expected to come out this week.

When we inquired about the status of the Huntsville case, we learned the final report that will reveal probable cause and safety recommendations won't be available anytime soon.

Public Affairs Officer Keith Holloway tells us the NTSB is still working on that final brief and he does not foresee a conclusion in this investigation by the end of this year.

Typically, highway investigations take 12-18 months.

Holloway says there's no particular reason for the hold-up... having more than one vehicle involved in an investigation and recent crashes that required more immediate attention could add delays.

Will League is a Huntsville attorney representing three injured victims.

His court dates will be set after the death cases are heard.

The first of those lawsuits heads to trial December 8th.

Does not having that final report deter attorneys?

League tells WAFF 48 News, "We don't feel like it's the be all, end all, what they say goes, but again, that will be a helpful document or report."

League feels his team has built a strong case during the past two years from their own fact-finding.

"We've had the bus inspected, we've had accident reconstructionists go up, look at the drawings, the measurements, and make our own evaluation as the series of events that led this bus to go over the overpass... We found a lot of things from Laidlaw we feel were deficient in their regard and that could have been done to keep this from happening."

A few weeks back, attorneys representing victims went to a judge wanting Laidlaw to provide  documents.

And if we have any evidence there is more doumente we may file a motion with the court to help us obtain those.

I'm told some of those documents were handed over and if plaintiff's attorneys have any evidence there is more documentation, they may file a motion with the court to help obtain those.

We're in talks with Laidlaw and the bus driver's attorneys and were promised a comment soon.

As of news time, we had not received a statement.

Monday evening UPDATE: Statement from Laidlaw representation:

"Safety is our core value, and we believe that our driver was driving the bus in a safe manner within the speed limit and, as the Huntsville Police Department investigation concluded, in no way contributed to the crash.  Our drivers, including Anthony Scott, have extensive classroom and behind the wheel training before they are allowed to transport students, and any alleged failure to train or to follow regulations had nothing to do with causing this accident.  We believe we have now given the plaintiffs all relevant information."