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Bus company involved in fatal crash had good record

Published October 31, 2013 6:32 am

Le Bus, UHP, federal agency are investigating crash.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A Le Bus driver's death marks the first fatality for the company in at least two years.

Pita Asiata — 53-year-old father of professional football player Matt Asiata — was killed Monday when his Le Bus travelling east from Wendover collided with a heavy construction vehicle on Interstate 80, about 33 miles from the Utah-Nevada border gambling town.

Le Bus, a West Valley City-based division of the Rock Springs-Jackson Bus Lines, has only had four crashes in the United States in the past two years, not counting this most recent crash, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Of those four crashes, only one involved injuries, none of which were fatal, according to a federal report about the company.

Le Bus operates a fleet of 130 motor coaches. All of the crashes that the company's buses are involved in show up in the report, regardless of who was at fault.

The crash drove a large auger on the construction truck through the front of the bus and into the driver's seat and Asiata, who suffered "massive chest trauma," according to UHP Cpl. Todd Johnson.

Four passengers were taken to the hospital, one a woman who last listed in critical condition Tuesday. Johnson said two victims suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries, while a pregnant woman was transported to the hospital as a precaution when she experienced contractions.

Johnson did not have updates to the four people's conditions as of Wednesday afternoon.

Le Bus, the federal safety administration and UHP are all investigating the crash, along with help from the Utah Department of Transportation. The truck that the bus crashed into had been working on a cable barrier project for UDOT.

A federal investigator met with Le Bus on Tuesday, said UDOT spokesman John Gleason.

The UDOT health and safety policies outline how heavy equipment trucks should have hazard lights, beacons or some form of flashing lights on if they are traveling under the speed limit, Gleason said. However, that policy is for UDOT vehicles and, as of Wednesday evening, it was unclear if the same policy applies to contractors.

It remains to be seen whether the construction truck in this case had flashing lights on, Gleason said. For some reason, the vehicle began to slow down prior to the turn-around center median, according to UHP.

Marissa Padilla, spokeswoman for the federal safety administration, could not comment on any details since the investigation is ongoing.

— Tribune reporter Janelle Stecklein contributed to this story.