Investigators collect phone data from pickup driver in crash

By , on April 3, 2017


A federal investigator said Monday that her agency has collected cellphone records from a pickup driver who a witness said admitted to being distracted by texting before he collided with a church bus killing 13 people.  (Photo: Jason Hunter/Flickr)
A federal investigator said Monday that her agency has collected cellphone records from a pickup driver who a witness said admitted to being distracted by texting before he collided with a church bus killing 13 people. (Photo: Jason Hunter/Flickr)

DALLAS — A federal investigator said Monday that her agency has collected cellphone records from a pickup driver who a witness said admitted to being distracted by texting before he collided with a church bus killing 13 people.

National Transportation Safety Board Investigator-in-charge Jennifer Morrison told reporters Monday that the agency has also collected data from the cellphone of the bus driver, who died in the crash. Investigators are also reviewing air bag deployment data, samples for toxicology reports and video.

Morrison and Texas Department of Public Safety officials have not said whether texting played a role in the accident in rural Texas last Wednesday, but said the pickup driver, 20-year-old Jack Dillon Young, appeared to have crossed the centre line before the crash.

Morrison said a preliminary investigation report could be released within a month, but the full investigation— including a cause of the accident and safety recommendations— could take up to a year to complete.

“The NTSB has been on scene since Thursday, gathering information that will eventually assist us in determining the probable cause of this crash as well as enabling us to issue recommendations to prevent similar crashes from happening again,” Morrison said.

Morrison said that the air bags in the front of the bus and in Dillon’s pickup both deployed during the crash.

Dillon was not wearing a seatbelt, while most if not all of the bus passengers were wearing seatbelts, Morrison said. She said previously that the passengers in the rear of the bus had lap belts while the driver and front passenger also had shoulder belts.

Thirteen people including the bus driver were killed during the crash. One passenger seated in the back passenger-side seat of the bus survived the crash, Morrison said.

She said investigators are working with the vehicle manufacturers as well as the Turtle Top company, which is the secondary manufacturer of the bus, to review the findings from the crash. Investigators had determined there were no mechanical issues with either vehicle prior to the crash, she said.