Authorities are continuing to investigate whether faulty brakes caused a school bus to crash into an SUV, then careen into a liquor store at a New Jersey intersection Thursday, but a bus company official said Friday that the brakes had just recently been repaired.
Eleven children were taken to hospitals after the accident in Irvington at around 8:30 a.m. Surveillance video obtained by NBC 4 New York showed the force of the impact, as both vehicles were raised into the air a bit before coming to rest, dust and debris settling around them. Police said the bus driver told investigators the brakes failed and she lost control of the bus.
Samuel Hashem of the Horizon Link bus company said the brake pads were a "little bit low," so they were changed over two weeks ago and there have been no issues since then. Thursday was the first personal injury accident in the company's 20-year history, he said.
Still, New Jersey state motor vehicle records show that the Bloomfield-based Horizon Link's fleet failed 96 percent of its last inspection, and 47 of its 48 buses taken were taken out of service for things like failed brakes, defective emergency exits and fuel leaks.
Hashem said: "Motor Vehicle, they're very strict in their inspection. You barely find a vehicle that passes the first time from over a hundred items."
The buses are examined for the state-mandated inspections every six months. Hashem said bus drivers check their vehicles daily and "if they report anything, we correct them, we take the vehicle out of the road."
The children were on their way to Mt. Carmel Guild School in West Orange at the time of the accident.