Tour bus company has history of problems
LEXINGTON (WHDH) -- State police are inspecting the tour bus that smashed into an overpass on Soldiers Field Road on Saturday.
Thirty-five people were hospitalized following the crash. Three were seriously hurt and on Monday, a 17-year-old is still in critical condition.
“The roof collapsing down and you have the overhead luggage place to put bags and stuff, all that’s coming down on top of you. There were metal railings and seats pushed back and people were trapped,” said a fire official.
According to the owner of the bus company, the driver was distracted by a GPS before crashing into the low bridge.
“He said he looked at the GPS and looked down and didn’t see the turn and looked back up and the bridge was a low bridge and he hit the low bridge,” said Raymond Talmadge, owner of Cavalry Coach Company.
7News has learned the bus company has had problems in three states all in 2011.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Calvary Coach had compliance issues in Pennsylvania and in New York. In Maryland, records show there was an unsafe driving issue.
Investigators said the 66-year-old driver was on Soldiers Field Road, heading from Harvard University back to Philadelphia. The driver apparently missed warning signs for the Western Ave Bridge. The height limit is just 10 feet and the bus is much taller. But, the impact didn't stop it.
“The power of the bus was able to pancake down the roof to allow it to continue through rather than get stuck,” said a fire official.
It went under the bridge and travelled another 200 yards before coming to a stop.
“Boom, they hit the embankment. No one knew what happened. A lot of them were in shock,” said the fire official.
Despite being in the center of all the damage, the driver walked away unharmed.
7News learned he has been a part time driver with the Cavalry Coach Company for roughly five years. He also drives school buses.
Police said the driver will likely be cited for missing signs warning about the height limit. State police are looking into whether any other charges will follow.
The damaged bus remained on Soldier's Field Road for eight hours. Crews had to rip out part of the guardrail to eventually haul it away. Investigators said the bridge didn't suffer any structural damage, but it is already scheduled to undergo maintenance work in 2014.
State police aren’t commenting on whether or not the use of the GPS contributed to the crash. They said it may be two to four weeks before the full accident reconstruction is complete.