NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


August 4, 1999

The National Transportation Safety Board's investigation into the May 9 crash of a Custom Bus Charters tour bus in New Orleans, Louisiana, which killed 22 passengers, continues. The following factual information is provided as an updated status report on that investigation.

The Bus

NTSB investigators are in the process of testing steering and hydraulic components of the bus. As of this date there is no indication of a mechanical failure within the bus. The bus's tail light bulbs are also being examined to determine if the driver might have been applying brakes during the accident sequence.

Safety Board investigators are continuing to examine all of the available data from the bus's electronic control module (ECM), as well as the driver's records of duty status, and the bus's use itinerary supplied by the motor carrier. Safety Board investigators will examine and compare the data recovered from the ECM in an effort to place the bus, and/or engine functions, into a time line that may ultimately assist them in identifying factors in the accident.

The Crash Scene

NTSB investigators have taken samples of the wooden, vertical guard rail posts from the accident scene. They are examining the posts to determine the presence of any bug infestation and attempt to determine what effect, if any, such an infestation might have had on the crash dynamics.

The Driver

The driver's attorney refused to permit NTSB investigators to interview the driver, who died earlier this week.

At the time of the accident, the driver was under treatment for kidney failure and congestive heart failure. He was undergoing hemodialysis three times a week.

The Board has received complete toxicological test results on the driver, some of which had been previously reported. Marijuana was detected in the following levels: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), 0.008 ug/ml in the blood; THC Carboxylic Acid, 0.048 ug/ml in the blood; and THC Carboxylic Acid, 0.193 ug/ml in urine.

In addition, 0.017 ug/ml of Diphenhydramine (an over-the-counter antihistamine) was detected in the blood. He had received this medication during his dialysis treatment the day before the accident. In addition, Diphenhydramine and Phenylpropanolamine (an over-the-counter decongestant) were detected in his urine.

The Safety Board makes no determination at this time about the significance of any of these findings or the role they may have played in the accident.

Other Items and Future Activities

NTSB investigators are examining the operations of Custom Bus Charters, and are evaluating pertinent local, state and federal oversight agencies for their effectiveness in motor carrier and driver oversight areas.

The Board is creating a computer model of the accident bus and will attempt to create a simulation of the accident that will assist investigators in reconstructing the actual accident.

Further information on this investigation will be released as it becomes available.

NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100



The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.