Action 9 investigates hidden shuttle bus dangers



ORLANDO, Fla. - Two families blame the manufacturer of shuttle buses for a deadly crash, and Action 9 found federal regulators recommended safety changes but nothing's been done.

You could ride a shuttle bus at the airport, at school, or on vacation. They're buses similar to the one Marybeth Pierce blames for her mother's death.

"People just flew out of that bus and landed on each other and on the ground," said Pierce.

The crash near Sebring killed three people and badly injured 27 others. The bus appeared crushed from a violent accident but authorities said it just rolled on its side after impact.

"Any of these shuttle buses that roll over, you're going to see somebody killed," said attorney Riley Allen, who represents four victims who sued manufacturer Krystal Koach, claiming the buses are structurally dangerous.

"I think it's tragic and sad that this bus could not withstand rolling on its side," said Allen.

The buses were made in two phases. Ford built the chassis, engine, and cab and another company, like Koach, made the passenger area side windows and seats.

After Ford built its parts, the Koach-completed vehicle never had to meet federal crash safety standards because of a nonconforming bus exemption.

Experts hired by Allen's firm claim it would flunk inspection.

"The whole wall is going to collapse and people will not only be ejected, they're going to be crushed," said auto expert Jay Zembower.

National Highway Traffic Safety Board investigations found nine people were killed and 36 injured in shuttle bus crashes where safety standards were questioned. The agency recommended changes, but that did not happen.

"(If the bus had met safety standards), my mom would probably be alive today," said Pierce.

The lawsuit claims that bus seat belts would have saved lives.

The victims' families hope their action will reopen a federal investigation into bus safety standards.

We contacted Krystal Koach owner, Eldorado National, the week before the airing of our story. Eldorado National sent Action 9 this response after our story aired....

"Eldorado National (Kansas), Inc. purchased the bus operation assets owned by Krystal Infinity, LLC d/b/a Krystal Enterprises out of bankruptcy on or about October 5, 2012.  Eldorado National (Kansas), Inc. had absolutely no involvement whatsoever in the design, manufacture, assembly or sale of the bus involved in the tragic accident."