Bus involved in deadly Biloxi crash last inspected in December

Biloxi train vs Austin-area bus (NBC video stream still)
Biloxi train vs Austin-area bus (NBC video stream still)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Echo Tours & Charters bus involved in Tuesday’s deadly crash in Biloxi passed its last three inspections with the most recent being in December, KXAN has learned.

According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Echo Tours & Charters LP based in Dallas, has had six crashes in the past two years. One of those resulted in at least one injury and five required the vehicle to be towed away.

Over the same two-year period, there were 24 violations listed for the company including:

  • Failure to obey traffic control devices
  • Speeding
  • Using a hand-held mobile telephone while driving
  • Driver did not have valid license to drive this type of vehicle
  • Brake problems
  • Damaged or discolored windshield
  • Warning device problems
  • Emergency exit-related problems

Echo Tours & Charters has 169 drivers who operate 113 vehicles from locations in Dallas, Tyler, Waco and Houston.

Train track safety record

NTSB investigators will only begin their investigative work Wednesday, but a federal railroad administration report shows the last time this train crossing on Main Street in Biloxi was safety inspected was exactly one week ago on Feb. 28.

The track has advance warning signs and signals at this location, plus gate arms with two flashing lights on each side of track The intersecting roadway is 75 feet away. The pavement markings at the track include stop lines and railroad crossing symbols.

People in the area say the track crossing itself is high on one side, meaning longer vehicles may have trouble getting over it without high centering, that’s when your vehicle’s bottom hits the ground before your back wheels catch up.

Craig Robinson, who tried to help the passengers out of the crashed bus, said, “I’ve seen multiple vehicles get hung up on that track.” Tyrone Burton, who lives across the crash site, added, “This has been going on for years. And I’ve witnessed that for years. There’s a few fatalities, but this is the worst that I’ve ever seen.”

KXAN has learned the crossing where this happened has a crash history dating back to 1976.

Since then, there have been 16 crashes at the crossing intersection on main street in Biloxi. Two of them were deadly, one in 1983, and the other in 2003. And four other crashes involved someone being hurt.

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