Drivers come forward in deadly party bus accident that killed new mom
4:38 PM, May 6, 2013
8:23 PM, May 6, 2013
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Investigators spent Monday afternoon back on the scene of a deadly accident where a woman fell out of the side of a party bus and was run over by three separate vehicles. They're looking for any other clues that might be able to help them piece together what really happened.
Jamie Frecks, 26, was on board the Midnight Express party bus for a friend's bachelorette party Saturday night. The Kansas Highway Patrol says it is still investigating how she fell out the side-emergency door exit and onto Interstate 35 near Southwest Trafficway.
Only one of the three drivers who stuck Frecks stopped that night. Troopers tell 41 Action News the other two drivers have now come forward, and they have impounded two cars in addition to the party bus itself.
Even though it is state law that you must stop if you have been involved in an accident, troopers say they have not made any arrests.
Meanwhile, the 41 Action News Investigators continue to look into the background of the bus company, which is registered in Bonner Springs, Kan.
A search of federal Department of Transportation records did not produce any results on the company. However, a spokesman for the department says the company was likely operating under a federal exemption that allows carriers who work on both sides of the state line to consider themselves an intrastate carrier.
That would mean the Kansas Highway Patrol would be responsible for regulating the carrier, not federal regulators.
41 Action News requested to see past records of inspections and citations from the Kansas Highway Patrol, but the department said those records are closed to the public because they are considered part of the investigative process under state law.
Calls to the bus company itself were not immediately returned. However, one of the owners released this statement to 41 Action News Monday morning:
"On behalf of the owners and the employees of Midnight Express Party Bus, we want to express our sincere sympathy for the family and friends touched by Saturday night's tragic accident that took the life of Jamie Frecks. We are trying to find out how the tragic accident could have happened. We will cooperate fully with everyone to find out the cause of this accident," co-owner Eddy Goetz said by phone.
Frecks was a new mother. Her baby was born just five weeks ago.
Meanwhile, with prom and wedding season upon us, how do you check to see if the bus you will be riding on is safe?
If they are an interstate carrier, meaning they cross state lines and travel outside the Kansas City metro area, they are required be registered with the Department of Transportation.
You can use the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's website to check a company's safety background and if it has the appropriate amount of insurance at www.fmcsa.dot.gov.
FMCSA also has an app called "Safer Bus" that you can find for both Apple and Android phones.
Companies listed with "conditional" status may pose a higher safety risk. Those with an "unsatisfactory" final status should not be operating at all.
Finally, make sure you check the level of insurance coverage. Bus companies with more than 16 passengers must carry more than $5 million worth of coverage.