The Three Deadliest Bus Accidents in the U.S.

The Three Deadliest Bus Accidents in the U.S.

Sudden disasters that claim multiple lives affect more than just the friends and families of the victims. These disasters directly affect entire communities and can cause the nation to come together in mourning.

A bus generally represents a safe method of mass transit for travelers. Sadly, however, that is not always the case. There have been times when routine bus rides turned into tragedies of epic proportion. Keep reading to learn about some of the worst tragedies.

The 1999 Mother’s Day Disaster

Forty-six people left New Orleans on a charter bus. The group was all set to enjoy Mother’s Day 1999 at a casino resort in Mississippi. The mission was to enjoy a few days of fun, relaxation, and gambling.

Somewhere along in its travels, the bus veered across three lanes of an interstate. The bus somehow avoided striking any other car on the road but smashed into a guardrail. The bus continued off the road and traveled another 50 feet or so. The vehicle finally came to rest after rumbling through a fence and colliding with a wall.

The driver of the bus claimed a car cut him off to set off the chain of events. Officials were unable to confirm his claim but were able to find evidence that he should never have been allowed to take command of the bus in the first place. An investigation of the driver revealed he was:

  • Under the influence of both Benadryl and marijuana
  • Released from the hospital eight hours before the bus trip began
  • Suffering from congenital heart failure
  • Suffering from kidney failure
  • Lost two previous bus driving jobs due to drug use

The National Transportation Highway Safety Administration blasted the bus company for allowing the driver to command the bus. They also called for closer scrutiny of bus drivers’ health. Twenty-three passengers lost their lives in the accident.

1976 Yuba High School Bus Crash

The 50-member Yuba High School choir loaded a bus en route to its final concert performance of the year. The choir, a chaperone, and the bus driver were all present as the bus traveled Interstate 680 on its way to Orinda, California.

Some time into the 115-mile trip, the bus driver noticed the low oil indicator light on the vehicle display. The driver exited the interstate in search of a gas station. There, he would add some oil to the engine to ensure a safe trip.

The driver realized he had no brakes while navigating the sharp turn presented by the Marina Vista exit. He could do nothing to control the excessive speed at which the bus took the turn. The bus flipped over the guardrail and plummeted 25 feet. Twenty-eight student band members and the chaperone were killed in the accident.

Investigators later determined that a compressor drive belt that is responsible for driving air to the brakes malfunctioned. Investigators said the inexperience of the driver also played a role.

The 1963 Chualar Bus Crash

A group of Hispanic farmworkers was traveling by bus when they experienced an accident involving a train. The accident claimed the lives of 32 of the 53 farmworkers.

No one knows exactly why, but the bus driver came to a stop while approaching a railroad crossing. The driver then began to inch forward slowly across the track. The railroad crossing, as well as the dirt road the bus traveled, was privately owned. There were no warning lights or crossing gates to warn of an approaching train. These things were not required by law at the time of the accident.

Investigators were unable to find anything that may have obscured the view of the driver. But he apparently did not see the train that smashed into the bus. The train continued to travel for 3,000 feet after making contact with the bus. The blood, bodies, and body parts of many farmworkers who had been riding the bus were scattered across the scene.

This bus crash left 50 Mexican families without a means of support. The result was several legal changes meant to help the families of accident victims and prevent future tragedies like the Chualar bus crash from ever happening again.

If you have been involved in an accident on a bus, you may need to contact a bus accident lawyer to file a case against the company or government entity that was responsible. Not all accidents are preventable, but many were completely avoidable if it wasn’t for the negligence of another party.



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