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Investigation Reveals Faulty Guardrail Repair in Fatal Bus Crash


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The school bus that crashed on the I-610 overpass in Texas hit a guardrail that was improperly repaired by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The bus plummeted through the guardrail and off the overpass bridge, killing two teenagers.

About the Fatal Bus Crash

The crash occurred on September 15th, 2015 and involved a Houston Independent School District bus.

The school bus was hit by another vehicle and swerved off the eastbound lane of the I-610 overpass bridge. The bus broke through the guardrail barrier of the bridge before plummeting down onto Telephone Road.

Two young students, Mariya Johnson, 17, and Janecia Chatman, 14, were killed in the accident.

About the Faulty Guardrail Repair

Though the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) did not list the guardrail as a contributing cause to the crash, they did record their findings of an inadequate repair job done on the bridge’s guardrail by TxDOT.

The investigation concluded that there had been a previous accident that impacted the same guardrail involved in the bus accident. The previous accident impaired the anchor bolts and concrete parapet significantly.

The guardrail in question was designed in 1970 and was already unable to absorb the impact of a heavy vehicle with such velocity. The outdated guardrail’s bolts that were bent in the first accident were never properly repaired. They were instead simply straightened, which severely weakened the metal.

It is unknown whether a proper repair could have stopped the bus from crashing through the barrier.

Moving forward, the Texas Department of Transportation plans to provide direction to all districts on how to properly repair a damaged guardrail, including the use of new bolts in place of those damaged.

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