BILOXI, Miss. (KXAN) — The bus driver involved in a collision with a train in Biloxi on Tuesday, with senior citizens from the Austin area on board, was not on his planned route, officials said Thursday.
The bus driver ended up at the intersection of Esther’s Boulevard and Main Street in Biloxi, which was not the route sent to him by a tour operator.
Robert Sumwalt, board member with the National Transportation Safety Board, said Wednesday and Thursday had been very productive for investigators.
The bus and passengers in Tuesday’s crash left Bastrop on Sunday, March 5, and spent the night in Lafayette, Louisiana. On Monday, they traveled to Bay St. Louis for the night and on Tuesday, they left around noon for Boomtown Casino in Biloxi, with an expected arrival around 2:30 p.m.
The motorcoach was operated by Echo Transportation, a company out of Dallas, and the tour arranged through Diamond Tours out of Fort Myers, Florida.
The idea, Sumwault said, was that all three buses on the Diamond Tours route would leave Bay St. Louis around the same time and arrive in Boomtown around the same time. A Diamond Tours representative texted the driving directions to all three drivers.
The approved plan was to come into Biloxi on I-110, and then exit on Caillavet Street, toward the casino. The bus driver was using an Echo Transportation-provided GPS unit set for commercial vehicle use.
Investigators expect to learn “very useful” information from the bus’ engine control module. A front facing was also on board the bus and NTSB crews expect to examine the footage it recorded.
Three of the four killed in the crash were from the Austin area. Thirty-five people were injured in the collision.