NTSB releases preliminary report on fatal church bus crash

The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report of their investigation into the deadly head-on church bus crash in Uvalde County, near Concan, in March 2017. 13 members of First Baptist church of New Braunfels were killed when the bus they were in collided with a white pickup truck.

The driver of the pickup truck and one bus passenger sustained serious injuries.

Read Names of victims of New Braunfels church bus crash released

According to the NTSB preliminary report, two witnesses in a vehicle following behind the pickup truck recorded a 14 minute long video of the motion of the pickup truck prior to the crash. The video ended just prior to the the truck entering the curve where the crash occurred.

The video showed the pickup departing its travel lane and crossing over the solid white edge line 37 times. The video also recorded the pickup truck entering the grass roadside at least five times.

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According to NTSB, the video also shows the pickup truck crossing over the double yellow centerline into the opposite lane of traffic at least 19 times and at one point traveling completely onto the wrong side of the road.

NTSB's initial review of the video indicates that the pickup truck was traveling at a relatively constant speed of 67 to 71 MPH throughout the 14 minutes of video. The witnesses contacted the local Sheriff to report the pickup truck and law enforcement were already en route at the time of the crash.

Read Federal investigation into deadly church bus crash

After the crash, the driver of the pickup truck told both witnesses and police officers that he had been texting at the time of the accident. He also provided a statement during an NTSB interview that he was checking his cell phone for a text when the crash occurred.

The driver of the pickup truck also told NTSB investigators that he had been taking prescription medications prior to the crash. Several of those medications, as well as marijuana, were found in the pickup truck at the scene of the crash. Toxicology test results are still pending at this time.

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According to the NTSB, preliminary evidence suggests that all the occupants of the church bus were wearing their available restraints. No mechanical defects were identified in the initial inspection of either vehicle.

All aspects of the crash remain under investigation as the NTSB determines the probable cause with the intent of issuing safety recommendations to prevent similar crashes. The NTSB is working alongside the Texas Department of Public Safety which is conducting a separate, parallel investigation.

To read the NTSB preliminary report in it's entirety, click here.