Bus company responds to deadly accident

January 6, 2008 12:26:14 PM PST
Officials from a charter bus company could not explain why they hired the driver now being investigated in a fatal bus accident despite his three prior convictions for drunken driving. Baltazar Flores Jr., of Houston-based Capricorn Bus Lines, said yesterday the company doesn't hire unsafe drivers.

But Flores could not say why the company hired 42-year-old Roberto Garcia Cruz, of Houston. According to Texas Department of Public Safety records, Cruz has three convictions for drunken driving, the last time in 2000. Cruz was driving a charter bus back to Houston from Monterrey, M

exico early Wednesday morning when he misjudged a curve and lost control of the vehicle near Victoria.

The bus, which was carrying 46 passengers, flipped on its side, killing one man. A female passenger whose arm was amputated after the wreck has filed a lawsuit.

Cruz also did not have a license to drive a commercial vehicle outside Texas. State records show he's also been convicted of two charges dealing with assault.

Capricorn manager Francisca Flores said her company examines drivers' records before they're hired and has them undergo physicals and drug testing.

But when repeatedly asked for details about background checks the company performs, she said: "There's other people in charge of that."

Another Capricorn employee, Flor Flores, later said the company was unaware of Cruz's driving record.