Companies in shuttle bus crash have long list of violations

Companies in shuttle bus crash have long list of violations
Sixteen people were injured in a crash involving a hotel shuttle bus and a tractor-trailer Friday morning.

The crash happened around 10:30 a.m. on North Loop Road, in front of the AirTran hangar at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
The College Park Police Department said an 18-wheeler was attempting to make a U-turn, and the shuttle bus from MCI Limos for the Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton Inn and Suites did not see the truck and ran into it. The shuttle driver has the most serious injuries, including broken bones, police said.

Chief of Emergency Medicine for Grady Health System Leon Haley said 10 patients were sent to Grady Memorial Hospital. He said two patients are in serious condition; one has a collapsed lung, and another has shoulder fractures. Both of those patients are expected to stay at least overnight.

The other eight patients, including one 12-year-old, were expected to be released Friday. Two additional patients remained in fair condition at Atlanta Medical Center.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant immediately went to work after the accident, tracking the DOT numbers on both vehicles.

Diamant obtained safety records and inspection reports within minutes of the crash and found Arkansas-based USA Truck's fleet of 2,300 vehicles had been involved in 251 crashes in the last two years.

Of those crashes, 92 included injuries and eight led to deaths. The records did not indicate how many were the fault of the trucking company.

The data obtained by Diamant also included a long list of safety violations in the same two-year period, including 549 unsafe driving violations and 3,027 maintenance violations.

Diamant went to the USA Truck Atlanta terminal and was told by a security guard he could not enter the property.

Diamant reached Rodney Mills, the company's chief counsel, by phone. Mills said he couldn't comment on the crash and when asked about the safety violations he hung up on Diamant.

Diamant sent an email to Mills with another chance to explain the recent safety violations but has not received a response.

Federal records for MTI, the College Park shuttle bus company, show it had just one minor crash in the last 24 months, but Diamant did discover 26 maintenance violations since 2011.

General Manager Mike Toye said the problems have been addressed and he has retrained his staff since. Federal records show no violations since 2011.

Toye said his thoughts are with driver Yolanda Boles and the passengers who got hurt.

"My prayers go out for them and I just hope they come out of it very quickly," Toye said.

A spokesman for the hotels released a statement that said, "Our most important priority is the safety and well-being of our guests and team members. We express our deepest concern and sympathy for any guests who were injured in the hotel shuttle bus accident this morning."

Under Georgia law, only the driver of shuttle buses is required to wear seat belts. There is no federal law requiring seat belts on shuttle buses.