NTSB says fatal school bus fire had unusual circumstances

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The National Transportation Safety Board spoke to media Thursday about why they are investigating a bus fire in rural Iowa the led to the death of two people.

Pete Kotowski, the investigator in charge with the NTSB, says that the NTSB began investigating this incident due to the unusual circumstances surrounding the crash and the loss of life.

Donnie Hendricks, 74, and Megan Klindt, 16, were the only people on the bus when the fire erupted around 7 a.m. Tuesday.

NTSB determined the bus to be an International model bus from 2005.

The bus is a model and year that may have been subject to an NHTSA recall of school buses due to an 'electrical circuitry issue." However, the NTSB said that they are currently examining if this specific bus was one of the buses subject to the recall.

The bus was a diesel operated bus with a reinforced fuel tank.

NTSB also obtained toxicology samples from both victims and are examining them in an Oklahoma lab.

The NTSB says they are also examining whether or not any of the buses internal and external monitoring equipment is still functional for clues to how the bus caught flame and why the victims could not get out.

Local investigators say the bus caught fire after it backed out of a farm driveway and into a ditch across the road. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Deputies arrived on scene around 7:20 a.m. and were unable to get on the bus, which they reported was fully engulfed in flames. Carson and Oakland Iowa Fire Departments arrived and extinguished the fire.

This was the first stop of the bus route. Fire dispatchers contacted Riverside Schools who confirmed that it was one of their buses and that they were unable to contact the driver on their cell phone. LifeNet was initially on standby for the incident, but was canceled shortly after deputies arrived on scene.

Kotowski told the media that the entire NTSB investigation will take anywhere between 12 and 14 months before it is fully complete. Initial factual findings should come out within the next two weeks.