Examining Pioneer Trails’ safety records after 3 bus passengers killed in fiery Ohio crash

The Pioneer Trails charter bus was carrying a driver and 54 students and chaperones.
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 2:37 PM EST
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ETNA, Ohio (WXIX) - Federal safety records show Pioneer Trails, the company whose charter bus was involved in the deadly central Ohio crash on Tuesday, was subject to 91 inspections in the last 24 months.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy says it could take a few weeks to finalize their report on the sequence of events that led to Tuesday’s fiery crash on Interstate 70 in Licking County, according to the Associated Press.

The Pioneer Trails charter bus was carrying a driver and 54 students and chaperones to an Ohio School Boards Association conference in Columbus, Tuscarawas Valley Superintendent Derek Varansky said Tuesday.

Three passengers on the bus died at the scene of the crash, Ohio State Highway Patrol said.

The crash involved five total vehicles, including the bus, an SUV and a semi.

There have not been any accusations that the charter bus was faulty, or the driver is at fault, but FOX19 NOW looked at the safety records as the investigation proceeds.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which falls under the Department of Transportation, Pioneer Trails charter bus company has been inspected 91 times over the last 24 months.

During that time, the charter bus company was involved in one non-fatal crash and received nine violations, the safety records read.

Many of those are tied to safety, records show.

In May 2022, records state that Pioneer Trails was hit with five violations including defective emergency exit windows, insufficient warning devices, and failing to inspect or use emergency equipment.

As a result, the FMCSA reported that the carrier may be prioritized for an intervention action and roadside inspection.

FMCSA sent FOX19 NOW a statement that reads:

“Our sincere thoughts are with the victims, their families and the community affected by yesterday’s crash in Licking County, OH. FMCSA is supporting NTSB’s investigation along with other state and local safety officials. It should be noted that this investigation is active. As such, there is no additional information we can share at this time.”

Pioneer Trails issued a statement Tuesday, saying they are fully cooperating with the investigation, which according to Gov. Mike DeWine, could be a lengthy process.

If you would like to check the federal database safety records, click here.

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