Safety Panel Says Bus Roof Problem Contributed to Deadly Crash in Crittenden County

FEBRUARY 16, 2005 - Posted at 7:59 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Federal investigators say corrosion of roof supports on a Chicago-based tour bus contributed to an October accident that killed 15 people near Gilmore in Crittenden County.  The bus headed from Chicago to a Mississippi casino for a weekend of entertainment.

A garage fire had damaged the Walters Charter & Tours motorcoach some time before the accident.  The National Transportation Safety Board says the roof was repaired poorly, with many misaligned rivet points.

During the October 9 crash, the bus' roof peeled upward, allowing the force of the accident to throw 29 of the 30 people aboard into a grassy area near an Interstate-55 exit.  The bus' driver was among those killed.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)