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Texas bus crash driver was in '98 fatal collision, reports say

April 12, 2013|By Devin Kelly

As officials investigated a Texas charter bus crash that killed two people and left dozens of others injured,  reports surfaced Friday that the driver of the bus had been involved in a fatal crash 15 years ago.

Sue Taylor, 81, of Hurst, Texas, and Paula Hahn, 69, of Fort Worth, were pronounced dead at the scene Thursday morning along the President George Bush Turnpike in Irving. Taylor was the one who organized the trip, according to local media reports.

Forty-two people -- many of them elderly passengers -- were transported to hospitals with injuries ranging from minor to critical. At Dallas' Parkland Memorial Hospital, six patients remained in intensive care Friday, including the driver of the bus. Four patients have since been released.

Driver Loyd Rieve, 65, who remained in critical condition, had been involved in a fatal crash in 1998, it was learned Friday. The Dallas Morning News reported that Rieve was driving a bus back from Oklahoma City when it struck and killed a man who was helping at an accident scene. The Associated Press, CNN and others also reported this Friday, citing court documents. The accident site is 10 miles from where Thursday's crash happened.

A preliminary investigation cleared Rieve of fault in that case, the Morning News reported, and a grand jury later voted not to indict Rieve on a charge of criminally negligent homicide.

On Friday, family members defended Rieve, telling local media he had more than 30 years of experience driving commercial vehicles.

“He would never do anything to hurt anybody,” Rieve’s daughter-in-law, Kim Ellis, told NBC 5. “Tragic things happen.… We’re praying for everybody.”

Thursday’s crash occurred about 9:10 a.m. in the northbound lanes. The bus was carrying 46 passengers from the Dallas area to Durant, Okla., bound for the Choctaw Casino, when it left the road, struck a center divider and tipped over. 

Witnesses and emergency responders described a chaotic, bloody scene where rescuers had to enter through the roof to remove injured passengers.

A list of passengers recovered by authorities included the names of several people who never boarded the bus, adding to initial confusion, Irving Assistant Fire Chief Rusty Wilson told the Los Angeles Times.

“We had to work a puzzle,” Wilson said.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. Investigators with the Texas Department of Public Safety are interviewing witnesses and examining physical evidence at the scene.

“There are a lot of boots on the ground,” spokesman Sgt. Lonny Haschel said.

Cardinal Coach Line, the company operating the charter bus, has not commented publicly on the incident.

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devin.kelly@latimes.com


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