Channel 5 News Investigation: Bus Involved in Rio Hondo Crash Violation and Accident History
WESLACO – A records search of the bus involved in the crash at the Rio Hondo Bridge Friday evening revealed their violation and accident history.
The bus carrier works out of a San Benito office, but it's registered in Anchorage, Alaska. It serves in the private sector and has government contracts.
According to federal data, they've undergone 217 federal inspections yielding 208 violations in the past 24 months. A review of the records reveals repeated mentions of maintenance problems such as inoperative or defective brakes or suspension issues.
Although most violations were not severe, they did include some with a high severity weight such as submitting a false report of a driver's record of duty status, an incomplete log of a driver's record and a driver operating without a required commercial driver's license at the start of 2019.
Trailboss has a federal contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the San Antonio Area of Responsibility, which includes the Rio Grande Valley. Their responsibility is to provide armed ground transportation while moving adults and children in federal custody.
In 2014, the company was sued by an airline. They accused a Trailboss driver operating an airport shuttle of negligence.
The driver was in the shuttle at the Brownsville/South Padre Airport when the vehicle sliced through a stationary plane's wing. The lawsuit was dismissed when the airline reached a settlement with the company.
Video of the bus striking the north tower of the Rio Hondo Bridge last night. Structural assessment team will be inspecting bridge today. Bridge will be closed until further notice. Please stay tuned. pic.twitter.com/oT3ZtIaclg— TxDOT Pharr District (@TxDOTPharr) December 7, 2019
On Saturday afternoon, ICE released a statement:
“On Dec. 6, 2019, a Trail Boss bus contracted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to transport detainees was involved in a crash as the bus was traveling through the city of Rio Hondo, Texas. A total of four people were inside the bus at the time of the crash — two contract guards and two ICE detainees. No ICE employees were involved. All four occupants were taken to a local hospital in Harlingen, Texas, where they were treated; three were released, and one remains hospitalized. The two detainees were returned to ICE custody.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility are investigating this incident.
No further details are releasable at this time.”
Trailboss Chief Operating Officer Bob Christie released a statement Saturday saying:
"At this time, our primary concern is with the wellbeing of our passengers and the security transport drivers. All four were taken to the Valley Baptist Medical Center for immediate care. Our driver remains in stable condition and our co-driver was treated and released. The detainees received treatment and were released to the Department of Homeland Security.”
“We are doing everything we can to cooperate with the Rio Hondo Department of Public Safety. Because the motor coach was transporting detainees in immigrant custody, we are also working with the Department of Homeland Security. We apologize to the people of Rio Hondo area for any inconvenience the bridge closure may bring."
The company says it will assist the Texas Department of Transportation and local authorities.