NTSB probes 2 fatal crashes involving tires

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WASHINGTON (March 13, 2014) —The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating two fatal February 2014 crashes, one in Louisiana and one in Florida, that allegedly were caused by tire failures.

The NTSB said both tires in question were manufactured by Michelin North America Inc.

The crash in Florida involved a BFGoodrich Commercial T/A AS tire which was part of a July 2012 recall of approximately 794,000 tires for possible tread belt separation leading to tread and air loss, according to the agency.

The Florida crash occurred Feb. 21 on Interstate 75 in Lake City, Fla., the NTSB said. The driver of a Ford E360 XLT 15-passenger van lost control after the tread reportedly separated from the left rear tire, which was one of the recalled BFGoodrich tires.

The van, which contained three adults and seven children, rolled over. Two of the adults and two of the children were ejected from the vehicle, the NTSB said. The two ejected adults died, and the other passengers were injured.

The NTSB did not say whether they were wearing seatbelts.

The van was operated by the First Baptist Church in New Port Richey, Fla., and was en route to a church camp in Georgia, the agency said.

The NTSB said it will be examining the tire and reviewing the effectiveness of the product recall process to determine if the First Baptist Church ever received the safety recall notice.

The 2012 recall involved two sizes of the BFG Commercial T/A and Uniroyal  Laredo HD/H tire — LT 235/85R16 120 Q and 245/75R16 120 Q — that were  manufactured at the firm's Fort Wayne, Ind., plant.

The Louisiana accident occurred Feb. 15 on U.S. Highway 90 near Centerville, La. A 2004 Kia Sorento was traveling westbound when, according to the agency, the car's left rear tire — a 10-year-old Michelin Cross Terrain — reportedly lost its tread.

The Kia spun out of control, crossed the median of the divided highway and collided with an eastbound school bus carrying the 34 members of the Lafayette (La.) High School baseball team, the NTSB said.

The 37-year-old driver of the Kia and three of his passengers, who were not wearing seat belts, were ejected from the vehicle and killed; the fourth passenger, who wore his shoulder belt, was seriously injured. The driver of the school bus and 30 of the 34 passengers received injuries ranging from minor to serious, the agency said.

A Michelin spokesman said the company is cooperating fully with the investigations and will continue to do so.

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