On March 23, a 15-passenger van transporting members of a track team from Missoula, Mont., swerved off an interstate highway and crashed into a tree. A 16-year-old boy was killed and three other students were injured.
Less than two weeks later, on April 4, a Memphis childcare center van of the same style skidded off a road and crashed into a utility pole and guardrail. Four elementary school students and the driver perished in the accident, and two other students were left in critical condition.
The crashes add to existing controversy over the use of large passenger vans for school transportation. At press time, it was unclear whether either accident was the result of drug or alcohol use, and witnesses in both cases said the drivers were not driving erratically.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent investigators to Memphis to look into the crash. Officials plan to add the accident to its continuing investigation of large passenger vans.
The NTSB published a report in 1999 that advised against the use of these vans for transporting students.
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