The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Brakes were faulty in bus crash

Nicole Robinson

The National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into the Oct. 16 bus crash that killed five and injured 30 found that two of the six brakes on the bus were out of adjustment.

Under these conditions, Lauren Peduzzi, a spokesperson for the NTSB, said the bus should not have been on the road because it violated the state’s Department of Transportation regulations and raised safety issues.

“That would have been enough to place the bus out of service,” Peduzzi said. “You never want a bus on the road (in those conditions).”

The NTSB also found the bus driver, Paul Rasmus, 78, of Chippewa Falls, was not wearing his eyeglasses during the crash, despite the requirement on his driver’s license.

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A semitrailer, owned by Whole Food Products of Munster, Ind., carrying cargo from Indiana to Minneapolis overturned onto the westbound lane of Interstate 94 just north of Osseo, blocking both lanes. The Chippewa Trails-owned bus crashed into the undercarriage of the semi at 2 a.m. after coming back from a state band competition at UW-Whitewater. The bus was headed to Chippewa Falls High School carrying 44 band members, staff and chaperones.

Those killed in the crash were UW-Eau Claire senior Branden Atherton, 24; Eau Claire alumnus and Chippewa Falls marching band director Douglas Greenhalgh, 48; his wife, Therese Greenhalgh, 51; the couple’s granddaughter, Morgan Greenhalgh, 11; and Rasmus.

Even with these findings, however, Peduzzi said there still is not enough evidence to prove these factors could have prevented the crash.

“We have to figure out at what point was the (the truck) visible to the driver and, based on that, how much reaction time he would have had and how long it would have taken him to stop,” she said.

Wisconsin State Patrol Sgt. Chuck Lorentz said there are three investigations into the crash. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the NTSB are investigating the semitrailer and the bus while the state patrol examines the crash.

“There are many areas that overlap in our investigation,” Lorentz said. “The focus of each investigation may be different.”

Captain Douglas Notbohm of the Wisconsin State Patrol said they will continue to work with the NTSB, which will submit a completed report today. As for state patrol, Notbohm said it will probably take two weeks before it completes its investigation.

Kurt Nelson, the Chippewa Trails safety director, could not be reached for comment regarding the safety investigation.

The semitrailer driver, Michael John Kozlowski, 22, of Highland, Ind., voluntarily submitted blood and urine samples for testing, Peduzzi said. The urine test, analyzed by Whole Food Products, found no traces of drugs or alcohol.

Toxicology samples from Rasmus also were collected, Peduzzi said, but those results will take several weeks before they are finalized.

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Brakes were faulty in bus crash