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Preliminary report on Biloxi crash shows bus got stuck on tracks

HOUSTON – A crash in Biloxi, Mississippi, last month that killed four people and injured dozens happened after a bus got stuck on the railroad tracks moments before it was hit by a train, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The bus originated in Bastrop, Texas, and was taking nearly 50 people on a tour of casinos in Louisiana and Mississippi.

According to the NTSB report, the bus was trying to cross the tracks March 7 at what has been called a humped crossing, meaning it had low ground clearance, when its frame became lodged on the tracks. The 60-year-old driver was trying to free the bus by moving the vehicle back and forth when he noticed a train was approaching. The driver opened the door and told passengers to evacuate. A few minutes later, the train slammed into the bus.

Clinton Havran, 79, of Sealy; Deborah Orr, 62, of Bastrop; Peggy Hoffman, 73, and her husband, Kenneth Hoffman, 82, both of Lockhart, were killed in the crash. Forty people, including the driver, were injured. Six people on the bus and the train operators were not hurt.

According to the NTSB report, the bus driver tested negative for alcohol and drugs.

Biloxi officials days after the crash closed six of the 29 railroad crossings in the city. The city’s mayor said 29 crossings are “too many crossings for Biloxi.”

Federal authorities said they are still investigating issues related to the railroad grade crossing signage and maintenance, as well as the crash worthiness of the bus.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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