Driver in fatal crash drifted from lane at least 60 times, investigators say


The driver of a pickup that collided with a church bus in Texas in March, killing 13 people, reportedly drove out of his lane at least 60 times before the crash, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

After reviewing a 14-minute video taken by a witness just before the crash, NTSB reported that the pickup's driver, traveling north, crossed the solid white edge line on his right 37 times, entered the roadside grass at least five times, crossed the yellow double centerline 19 times and at one point drove completely on the wrong side of the road.

The witness who captured the video called the local sheriff to report the driver, and law enforcement officials were en route at the time of the crash, according to the NTSB report.

The collision took place on March 29, when a 2007 Dodge Ram 3500 pickup smashed head-on a into a 13-passenger bus operated by the First Baptist Church in New Braunfels, Texas. The 67-year-old bus driver and 12 passengers were killed, and the pickup truck's driver and one bus passenger sustained serious injuries.

The pickup's driver, 20, said he was checking his phone for a text when the crash occurred, according to the NTSB. Officials say they have since subpoenaed his cellphone records, with the intent to review them over the next few weeks as part of their investigation.

He also admitted to investigators that he took prescription medications before the crash. Several of those medications and marijuana were found in the pickup truck after the crash, according to the NTSB's findings.

The preliminary report indicates that all passengers on the church bus were wearing seat belts and that no mechanical defects were found in the initial inspection of either vehicle.

The crash remains under investigation by the NTSB and the Texas Department of Public Safety, which is conducting a separate investigation.

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