LITTLE ROCK (AP) – Careless driving was partly to blame for the crash of a charter bus from Chicago that overturned earlier this month on Interstate 55, killing 14 and injuring 16, according to a state police report released Thursday.

The report said driver Herbert Walters, 67, struck an exit sign and then ran over an arrow sign before he tried to correct the bus’ swerve. The rear of the bus became airborne before it began to roll, coming to rest upside down, the report said.

The bus, owned by Walters Bus Service Inc. of Chicago, crashed early on Oct. 9 on a wet roadway while traveling toward Tunica, Miss. The passengers had left Chicago the previous night on a gambling and shopping trip.

An attorney representing the bus company and its insurance carrier said there was no suggestion there were any problems with Walters’ driving before the bus left the road.

“I don’t know of anyone that categorizes any reckless driving or careless driving,” said lawyer Patrick Dowd. “If they cite him for leaving the roadway, I don’t know if they want to call that careless.”

The report included a police interview with a crash survivor who said a woman sitting in front of him complained about the bus driver eating while driving.

Dowd said he had not heard of anyone saying Walters was eating while driving.

Federal investigators, who are also looking into the crash, have said that they believed Walters stopped and got something to eat before the accident.

AP-ES-10-22-04 0101EDT



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