The investigation into the March 12, 2015 charter bus crash on I-65 has concluded with investigators saying driver error was to blame for the crash which sent 20 passengers and the driver to local hospitals.
The charter bus was carrying 16 members of the Indiana Institute of Technology (Indiana Tech) men’s and women’s bowling team to Smyrna, Tennessee to compete in a United States Bowling Congress Sectional Competition when it overturned near Henryville, Indiana.
Most of the passengers were released from the hospital on the day of the crash; however, the driver and a few passengers remained hospitalized for several days before being released.
The investigation included interviewing bus passengers and witnesses but also included more in-depth procedures such as attempting to gain information from the Event Data Recorder (EDR), as well physical inspection of the bus by Commercial Motor Vehicle Enforcement officers, and computerized photographic reconstruction of the scene by crash reconstructionists. The investigation lasted approximately three weeks.
Investigators were hopeful that onboard recording equipment would also shed light on to the cause of the crash; however, the camera stopped recording approximately two miles before the scene of the crash.
The pre-crash recording did not reveal any unusual driving behavior but did confirm that the bus was travelling the posted 70 mph speed limit.
To date, attempts to gain information from the Event Data Recorder have also been unsuccessful. A physical inspection revealed no mechanical issues with the bus.
Taking all available data into account, investigators said the driver, Rex Altenburg, 76, Fort Wayne, Indiana, drove the bus off the left side of the roadway for an unknown reason.
No medical or physical conditions have been attributed to his actions.
Investigators said the driver then over-corrected, putting the bus into a lateral skid back across both southbound lanes of the interstate.
The charter bus rotated clockwise and was facing north before traveling off the east side of I-65. The bus overturned after striking a rocky ditch line approximately 36 feet off the east side of the roadway.