By Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis – The National Transportation Safety Board has joined the Missouri Highway Patrol in investigating Thursday's fatal accident along Interstate 44.
The agency does not have the resources to investigate every crash on interstate highways, NTSB vice chairman Christopher Hart said. But Thursday's accident involved two areas that have concerned federal officials for a while.
"We are here to look at the construction zone issues because that's a because that's an issue we've had, and we're also here to look at the human factors issues regarding the attentiveness of the drivers of the vehicles," Hart said, adding that the NTSB is also concerned about the safety of school buses.
Two of the vehicles involved in the crash were buses carrying students from John F. Hodge High School in St. James, MO to a band trip at Six Flags. The first bus struck a pickup truck that had already struck a tractor cab as traffic slowed near a construction zone. The second bus struck the first. A 15-year-old student, Jessica Brinker, was killed, as was the 19-year-old driver of the pickup truck, Daniel Schatz.
The federal teams will not be assigning blame, Hart said. Any charges will be up to the Franklin County prosecutor. He expects the initial investigation will take about seven to ten days, with a final report due in 18 months.