Bus operator had history of problems
DALLAS — The owner of the charter bus that exploded while ferrying nursing home residents away from Hurricane Rita has a history of financial and safety woes, The Dallas Morning News reported today.
The explosion Friday on Interstate 45 south of Dallas killed as many as 24 elderly passengers.
The newspaper reported that the owners of Global Limo Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection in February in a bid to block a takeover of the business for nonpayment of debt. The company's license also was revoked for a few days in May by federal authorities for the second time since 1993.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also had singled out Global for full inspections, the newspaper reported. Global drivers have been ordered to stop driving five times after violations during the past 2 1/2 years, such as drivers not having logs that document how long they'd been driving.
The tour company, based in Pharr, Texas, operates nine buses, according to records cited by the News. It is owned by James H. "Butch" Maples, 64, and his wife Kathleen, 46.
Neither the newspaper nor Associated Press could reach Maples for comment.
Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle reported that the bus had lapsed registration but probably was pressed into service because of the hurricane. The Chronicle reported that the 1991 vehicle was not among the 10 buses registered with the state as being used commercially by Global.
"Because there's been a waiver under Hurricane Katrina and Rita, they don't have to provide (information on) every vehicle they use," Mark Cross, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation, told the Chronicle.
Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company