DALLAS – Two Texas prosecutors said they would be open to considering criminal charges in the bus crash that killed 17 church members on their way to a religious festival in Missouri.
"We are going to be evaluating whatever we receive from federal authorities or state authorities to determine whether criminal charges are appropriate," Joe Brown, district attorney in Grayson County, told The Associated Press. "But it's way too early to tell at this point."
Brown said that he would likely be communicating with federal prosecutors to see whether a case could also be made regarding safety violations.
Meanwhile, a Harris County prosecutor told The Dallas Morning News she could not rule out criminal charges against the Houston-based motorcoach owner and president.
The bus carrying members of a Vietnamese Catholic group from Houston crashed Friday in Sherman, killing 12 people at the scene and five others who died later at hospitals.
Federal authorities have moved to shut down the companies linked to the charter bus. The bus driver's record includes citations for driving while intoxicated in 2001 and for speeding in May 2004 and March 2007.
The license of bus driver Barrett Wayne Broussard, 52, was suspended for two months in 2001 because of the DWI conviction in Harris County, Debbie Hersman, a spokeswoman for the National Transportation Safety Board has said.
She said he failed roadside inspections twice last year and inspectors pulled his bus out of service both times.
Broussard remained in critical condition Tuesday at a Sherman hospital and a phone at his home went unanswered. Of the 55 passengers, 19 remained hospitalized including five passengers in critical condition at hospitals across Texas on Tuesday. Nineteen have been released from hospitals.
Companies linked to the charter bus, Iguala BusMex and Angel Tours Inc., have been ordered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to cease commercial operations. The agency issued a second order finding that the activities of Angel De La Torre, head of the bus companies, "in connection with motor carrier operations pose an 'imminent hazard' to the public."
Iguala BusMex applied in June for a federal license to operate as a charter but was still awaiting approval, according to online records. Angel Tours was forced by federal regulators to take its vehicles out of interstate service June 23 after an unsatisfactory review.
A voice mailbox for Angel Tours was full Tuesday.
The NTSB member leading the investigation has said that inspectors are looking at the mechanics of the wrecked bus and examining its interior damage.
Authorities said the vehicle's right front tire, which blew out, had been retreaded. Retreaded tires cannot be used on the steering axle, the NTSB said. The bus skidded about 130 feet before striking a guardrail and then traveled nearly 120 feet before coming to rest down an embankment near a creek.