CINCINNATI — How can you tell if the motor coach you or a loved one rides is safe?
Lamar Brady was one of the passengers caught in the horror on the 52-seat bus that crashed on its way to Cincinnati Sunday, killing five on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Brady's coach was part of a network of buses that make curbside stops – the kind that can get travelers from Point A to Point B on the cheap. The bus, which originated in New York, was scheduled to make its final stop at Court Street Downtown.
"I still see the bus crashing, every second of it," the Columbus man said Monday. “I still see it in my head playing over and over.
"He (the driver) overcorrected and we slammed into the embankment and we started tumbling at least two to three times," Brady said.
The crash put bus safety in the spotlight again.
Brady's bus was operated by Z&D Tours of Rockaway, New Jersey. Safety records indicate the company had a satisfactory rating. No citations or crashes had been reported in the last two years.
Traveling via bus is safe, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which issues safety ratings as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. You just have to be smart when selecting a motor coach company.
Follow these three steps, the FMCSA says.
- Choose a safe company that’s registered with the FMCSA and the Ohio Department of Transportation.
- Ask that company about its drivers’ driving history and the company's policies for their drivers.
- If you’re making a long trip, make sure there is a backup driver. Drivers can't drive for more than 10 consecutive hours at a time.
Investigators say Brady's coach caused the deadly chain-reaction crash when it left the roadway, rolled on the shoulder and slid back into the roadway, where it was hit by three tractor trailers.
Two UPS drivers in one of the semis were killed. Dozens of people on Brady's bus were injured, officials said.
"The guy that fell on me, his shoulder was sprained,” Brady said. “And the lady that fell on him, she busted open the side of her lip.
“I was praying to God, because the truck was leaking diesel," Brady said. "I was praying that it didn't go up in flames."
Despite his frightening experience, Brady is not afraid to ride the bus again.
"You can't be afraid of something that happens like this. It's inevitable. You take a risk every time you leave your house," Brady said.
The National Transportation Safety Board has been on the crash scene collecting evidence. It expects the investigation to take months.