NTSB: School bus did not stop at rail crossing

Posted on April 3, 2000

Federal investigators say preliminary evidence indicates that the school bus that was rammed by a CSX freight train in Tennga, Ga., did not stop before entering the rail crossing. They also said there was inadequate sight distance at the crossing, limiting the bus driver’s ability to see an approaching train. Three children have died as a result of the March 28 crash, which occurred at an unguarded rail crossing near the Georgia-Tennessee border. Four other children were seriously injured, as was the driver, Rhonda Cloer. She has not spoken to investigators on the advice of her attorney. Highway investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) say the bus’ onboard video system and eyewitness accounts indicate that the vehicle did not stop at the crossing. The videotape, investigators say, suggests that the radio was playing and students were talking just before the train crashed into the bus. A data recorder aboard the train indicates that it was traveling 50 mph when it hit the bus and that its horn sounded for at least eight seconds before the collision. No one aboard the train was injured. NTSB investigators re-enacted the accident on Thursday, March 30. A final report on the tragedy is not expected for several months.

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