The Latest: NTSB: Fatal rail crossing not on tour bus route

AP News
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Posted: Mar 09, 2017 8:20 PM
The Latest: NTSB: Fatal rail crossing not on tour bus route

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Latest on fatal crash between a tour bus and freight train in Mississippi: (all times local):

5 p.m.

A National Transportation Safety Board member says the Texas tour bus hit by a freight train was not supposed to have taken the road where it got stuck at a rail crossing.

WLOX-TV reports (http://bit.ly/2moDCRR ) that Robert Sumwalt told a news conference the driver may have followed a GPS set for commercial vehicle use rather than directions from a Florida-based tour company. Sumwalt is a member of the National Transportation Safety Board.

He said two other buses apparently followed the route given by Diamond Tours to the casino where they were headed in Biloxi (bih-LUX-ee), Mississippi.

The crash killed four bus passengers and injured dozens.

The Sun Herald (http://bit.ly/2n50RUf ) reports that investigators plan to interview the bus driver in coming days. Sumwalt didn't identify the driver.

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A National Transportation Safety Board member says investigators have downloaded video and engine data from the Texas tour bus that got stuck on railroad tracks and was hit by a train in Mississippi, killing four.

Board spokesman Robert Sumwalt says investigators downloaded video and engine data, and plan to interview the bus driver.

He says the train crew completed all safety checks and reported the train to be functioning well.

The agency put a test vehicle on the tracks and found unobstructed visibility.

Sumwalt says the board is nearly done with its work in Biloxi, but the investigation is just beginning. The team will travel to Dallas to meet with bus owner Echo Transportation, and to Florida to meet with tour organizer Diamond Tours.

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3:30 p.m.

A survivor of the deadly bus crash in Mississippi says she was sitting right behind the driver when the bus became lodged on a railroad crossing.

Justine Nygren of Austin, Texas, says the driver yelled for everyone to get off, but stayed on the bus himself, trying to ensure that people did leave.

Speaking in a telephone interview from her home, Nygren said she left through the front door of the bus and walked a short distance alongside the tracks, not looking back. She told The Associated Press that while she was walking, the train hit the bus and pushed it past her.

Nygren says the rest of her memory is a fog.

Four people died and dozens were injured.

Nygren says another bus returned her and other uninjured survivors Wednesday night to Bastrop, Texas. The Austin American-Statesman reports (http://atxne.ws/2m4c3Lz ) eight people were on that bus.

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2:30 p.m.

Friends say one Mississippi train crash victim always planned the best parties.

Sixty-two-year-old Deborah Orr was one of four people killed Tuesday when a train hit a charter bus in Biloxi (buh-LUX-ee). The native of Bastrop, Texas, died after surgery.

Judy Seymore of Cedar Creek, Texas met Orr through the Red Hat Society, a worldwide organization for women over 50. She says Orr choreographed dances to songs like "One Singular Sensation" and "Dancing Queen" and had a knack for bringing people together. Seymore says Orr's holiday parties were legendary.

Susan Lawson, another Red Hat, met Orr when they volunteered to help the community of Bastrop after fires in September 2011 killed two people and destroyed 1,660 homes.

She remembers one of Orr's best costumes: a "Little Mermaid" Ursula in red and purple, the Red Hat colors.

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1 p.m.

Heirs of a Texas couple killed when a train slammed into a tour bus in Mississippi are going to court.

Attorney Mikal Watts has sued the railroad, the bus company and its unidentified driver in state court in Dallas for Peggy Hoffman's son.

Watts said Thursday that attorney Broadus Spivey is suing separately for heirs of Hoffman's husband, Ken Hoffman, but they're working together.

The Hoffmans were among four people killed and dozens injured after their tour bus got stuck on a humped train crossing in Biloxi (buh-LUX-ee) and was hit by a CSX freight train.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday says CSX Transportation allowed "ultra hazardous" conditions at the crossing, and the Echo Transportation driver failed to follow traffic signs.

Spokespeople said the companies don't comment on pending litigation.

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3:30 a.m.

The mayor of the Mississippi city where a train slammed into a bus, killing four Texas tourists, says he'll work with the railroad to close some crossings and make others safer.

Biloxi Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich said Wednesday that he'll use recommendations from CSX Transportation to minimize the chances of another fatal wreck.

The city had already scheduled a hearing March 21 to discuss closing six railroad crossings when the CSX freight train hit a bus stuck on the tracks Tuesday. However, the Main Street crossing, where 40 were injured in addition to the deaths, isn't on the closure list.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

The crossing has a warning sign about low clearance, topped by a picture of a tractor-trailer stuck on a railroad track.

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The second item about the NTSB news conference has been corrected to say NTSB nearly done with work in Mississippi, not done.