Driver In Deadly Bus Crash Had Previous Citations

Friday, November 30th 2007, 9:47 am
By: News On 6

FORREST CITY, Ark. (AP) -- The driver of a passenger bus that crashed near Forrest City, killing three, had a string of traffic citations over the past six years. Texas authorities say Tornado Bus Lines driver Felix Badillo Tapia was ticketed for speeding four times since 2001, and additionally was once cited in that period for having defective brakes.

Texas Public Safety Department spokesman Tom Vinger told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that none of the violations qualify as major, and that Tapia was not in danger of losing his license.

State police have not released a final report on the crash yet. The bus carried 47 people, including Tapia. Two passengers were killed when the bus veered across the median and crashed with a pickup and a tractor-trailer. The pickup driver was also killed.

A Tornado spokeswoman would not discuss Tapia's driving record.

Commercial drivers in Texas risk losing their licenses if they have two or more serious offenses within three years, such as speeding 15 miles over the limit or following too close.

The company never before had a fatal accident and has an above-average safety record, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The company has 55 buses and drives about 7.5 million miles each year.