- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 10, 2008

Investigators focus on bus company

SHERMAN, Texas | The 2002 model bus that crashed Friday on a religious pilgrimage, killing at least 16 people, had tire repairs that violated safety rules, was being driven by a man with a DUI conviction, and was operated by a company without a license.

Authorities said the vehicle’s right front tire, which blew out as the tread separated from the tire, had been retreaded in violation of safety standards, said Debbie Hersman, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board. It is legal to use retreaded tires but not on the wheels that steer the bus, she said.

The driver, Barrett Wayne Broussard, had a commercial license, but his medical certification expired in May, according to the NTSB. Mr. Broussard was convicted in 2001 of driving while intoxicated and sentenced to 10 days in prison, according to online records from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Bus operator Iguala BusMex Inc. had applied in June for a federal license to operate as a charter but was still awaiting approval, according to online records. The company recently filed incorporation papers, listing the same owner and address as Angel Tours Inc., which was forced by federal regulators to take its vehicles out of interstate service June 23 after an unsatisfactory review of driver and safety practices.

The bus carrying 55 members of a Vietnamese Catholic group from Houston to Carthage, Mo., for a Marian festival smashed into a guardrail and skidded off a highway early Friday near the Texas-Oklahoma state line.

Gettysburg tree unlikely to survive

GETTYSBURG, Pa. | Standing just 150 feet from the platform on which President Abraham Lincoln delivered his most famous speech, one of the few remaining “witness trees” to the Battle of Gettysburg has been severely damaged by a storm, National Park Service officials said.

The huge honey locust tree on Cemetery Hill, which stood on the right side of the Union lines, fell Thursday evening.

“The top of it is totally broken off, and (the storm) severely damaged 70 to 80 percent of the tree,” Gettysburg National Military Park spokeswoman Jo Sanders said. “There’s not a whole lot left of it. But it didn’t kill the tree.”

Park maintenance officials will assess what to do with the remains.

“When it’s something this bad, it’s highly doubtful that a tree like that can survive,” said park historian John Heiser, adding that he knows of only three other witness trees that still stand in the heart of the battlefield.

Manhattan tries car-free day

NEW YORK | In Paris, they call it La Plage, or the beach. And in Bogota, Colombia, it’s Ciclovia, or bikeway.

In New York, nearly seven miles of Manhattan became traffic-free for six hours Saturday, creating a weekend playground for bikers, walkers and loungers.

“Bellissimo!” declared Antonio de Lucia, a tourist from Caserta, Italy, who read about the event and decided to walk about three miles from his Chinatown hotel to a friend’s Times Square restaurant.

“It’s a moment of truth for this city. People are participating - New Yorkers are united with their city,” said Mr. de Lucia, a 29-year-old business consultant who sauntered up a stretch of Park Avenue awash in cyclists, pedestrians and in-line skaters.

Bike-loving celebrities Lance Armstrong and David Byrne are helping Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg launch the experiment, called Summer Streets. The 6.9-mile, car-free route started at the Brooklyn Bridge and ended to the north at East 72nd Street, with links to Central Park and other open spaces. It is set to be repeated for the next two Saturdays, starting at 7 a.m.

Nebraska Beef recalls meat

The U.S. Agriculture Department said Friday that Omaha meat packing company Nebraska Beef Ltd. is recalling 1.2 million pounds of beef because it may be contaminated with a particularly dangerous strain of E. coli.

The recall is of beef prepared for shipment to retailers but not yet cut up in supermarket sized portions.

The recall is “Class 1,” meaning there is a “reasonable probability” that eating the beef “will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death,” the USDA said. It is the most dangerous level of the three classes of recall.

Shipping containers and some product labels will bear Nebraska Beef’s identification number, “EST. 19336,” but that number will likely not show up on meat that consumers buy, the USDA said.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said the beef was sent to processing establishments and retail stores across the United States and had been produced June 17, June 24 and July 8.

E. coli O157:H7 can cause diarrhea and dehydration. Children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems are the most susceptible.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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