Charges for owner in deadly bus wreck?

August 12, 2008 4:22:18 PM PDT
There's a push to make charter buses safer, just days after a crash in north Texas killed 17 church members from Houston. Eyewitness News has learned new details about the investigation into possible charges related to the crash.

The Harris County District Attorney's office isn't ruling out the possibility that the owner of that bus company could face criminal charges. As the investigation into that deadly crash continues, there is a call for action to make all buses safer.

"We have been very concerned," said Tammy Tran, a high profile attorney in the Vietnamese-American community.

Tan says she's speaking out, not as a lawyer, but a concerned citizen.

"I want to see that justice will be done," she said. "I want to see every person who is responsible will be held responsible."

Since Friday's deadly bus crash in north Texas, the bus company's owner, Angel de la Torre, has hired an attorney in anticipation of what could be a long legal battle as those affected by this tragedy focus on their grief.

"Every community, we want to see that the victims' rights are protected," said Tran.

While state laws to make buses and motorcoaches safer have been strengthened, U.S. Senator John Cornyn says the federal government hasn't been tough enough.

"We see that going forward, that the appropriate laws are passed, the appropriate oversight is taken and, finally, if there are any violations of criminal law, guilty people should be charged and go to jail," he said.

Joining Senator Cornyn and Congressman Ted Poe in their call for action are the survivors and the parents of the victims of a fatal school bus accident in Beaumont two years ago. Steve Forman's daughter's left arm was crushed in that wreck.

"There are no standards for seatbelts. There are no standards for windows," said Foreman. "Windows break and bodies will just fly out the windows."

Forman says after this latest crash, it's important to act now so that what happened Friday doesn't happen again.

Bus safety advocates believe reforms are needed in all areas from bus manufacturing to operator licensing. They'll continue to put pressure on their government leaders to make sure all the necessary steps are taken.

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