by Kim Powell
ODESSA - It's an image we've seen the last several days; debris scattered everywhere, a crumpled bus laying on its side. As the cleanup process has begun, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is continuing their investigation as to what could have caused this deadly crash.
Officials believe the bus hit ice while driving on I-20 on Wednesday morning, running into a guardrail twice before becoming airborne and hitting a train. "There are characteristics of guardrails and how guardrails function under impact and that's something our highway folks always take a look at," Pete Kotowski, the NTSB Investigator in charge, said.
NTSB will be coming up with a 3-D image that will show what happened before and after the accident, which will help determine the speeds of the vehicle and the dynamics of the crash. A device that is designed to record engine operations and vehicle performance was completely destroyed, but investigators were able to find two other recorders that will be examined.
"These systems include anti-lock braking systems, stability control systems, traction control systems," Kotowski said. "And when sometimes these systems are activated, their electronic control modules will record perimeters of vehicle operations at that time or about that time."
The bus, which was transporting 12 prisoners to a facility in El Paso, was made by a company called Bluebird and will be examined to see what kind of safety features it had.
"Bluebird typically is a school bus company and school buses have a number of safety standards that are unique to them as compared to normal trucks or commercial vehicles or even automobiles," Kotowski said.
NTSB will also be looking in to a 72-hour history of the people involved in the crash to see if any other factors could have played a role, which they say is standard protocol in these investigations.