Bus in fatal crash had wrong tags, overcrowded, police say

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The tour bus involved in a fatal crash near Bowling Green this week was over capacity and had improper registration, Kentucky State Police said.

There were 66 people onboard the bus, including a driver and a co-driver, Kentucky State Police Trooper Todd Holder said in a telephone interview Saturday.

The bus had a capacity of 55 people, Holder said. The bus crashed on a rural stretch of Interstate 65 in southern Kentucky, about 75 miles north of Nashville, last Monday.

Two people were killed in the crash, and 64 were injured. Police said a preliminary investigation indicated that the bus driver apparently dozed off and ran off the road, striking an overpass.

The 1987 model bus, made by Motor Coach Industries of Schaumburg, Ill., was carrying members of an extended family home to Alabama from a family reunion in Niagara Falls, N.Y., officials said.

Most were from rural Forkland, Ala., about 100 miles southwest of Birmingham. Officials initially said there were 67 people aboard.

Authorities had trouble identifying the bus because of the damage it sustained in the crash and its incorrect registration, Holder said.

Tags that were found on the bus involved in a crash actually belonged to a different bus, and expired in 2007, Holder said.

The registration tags that were supposed to be on the bus expired in 2005, he said.

"They took registration from a properly registered bus, or their other bus, and put it on this bus so it would be legal as it went down the road, or appear to be legal," Holder said.

Calls to C&R Tours in Birmingham, Ala., were not returned.

C&R had a satisfactory safety rating when it was last reviewed in March, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

It had not reported any accidents or injuries in the last two years.

The registration issue or number of people onboard did not have anything to do with what caused the wreck, Holder added. Holder said he did not know whether any citations would be forthcoming.

Authorities normally cite the driver for improper registration and passenger capacity violations, but the driver in this case is deceased, Holder said.

"That doesn't mean that something won't come about as far as the company or owners go," Holder said.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)