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Authorities: No criminal charges in Alabama bus crash that killed 4

By Desiree Hunter
Associated Press Writer

HUNTSVILLE — Authorities said Friday they have ruled out criminal charges in a school bus crash that killed four high school students when it plunged from an overpass a year ago, a move that will let lawsuits filed by the victims' families move forward.

Robert Broussard, a deputy district attorney in Madison County, said prosecutors received toxicology reports several weeks ago showing neither of the two drivers involved in the crash had any controlled substances or alcohol in their systems.

Broussard said the finding eliminated the last possibility of criminal charges in the wreck, which also injured about two dozen students.

"I'm sure there's probably some kind of driver inattention involved in it, but not to the level that would rise to a criminal charge," he said. "Obviously, somebody was at fault or you wouldn't have had the wreck. But truthfully, you look at it and I can't tell you exactly what happened."

Anthony Scott was driving a bus carrying 40 Lee High School students Nov. 20 when it collided with a Toyota automobile driven by Lee student Tony Williams on an Interstate 565 overpass. The bus jumped atop a concrete barrier before plunging nearly 40 feet to a street below.

The crash killed Christine Collier, 16; Tanesha Estella Hill, 17; Crystal McCrary, 17; and Nicole Ford, 19.

A lawyer for Williams said the decision not to prosecute meant there was nothing either driver could have done to avoid the crash.

"I think this shows a lot," said attorney Jake Watson. "My client is relieved and it supports our concerns all along that this is just a tragic accident."

Several lawsuits have been filed against Williams, Scott and his employer, Laidlaw Transit Inc.

An attorney for Scott did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

The National Transportation Safety Board has not released its final report on the wreck, but investigators said early on that a malfunction in the Toyota's steering might have contributed to the crash.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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