Feds probe crash that left Nevada beauty queen hurt


Federal authorities are launching an investigation into a California-based tour bus company after a Thursday crash that left a Nevada beauty queen hospitalized in critical condition.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will be looking into USAsia Casino Tours' safety practices, including its driver logbooks, licenses and employee drug test results, agency spokesman Duane DeBruyne said.

"In the immediate aftermath of a crash like this, it's almost automatic" that the agency conduct such a review, DeBruyne said. The results of the investigation will be shared with the Nevada Highway Patrol, which is handling the investigation.

Authorities said the company should not have been operating Thursday morning when the driver of one of its tour buses attempted an illegal U-turn on Interstate 15 near Moapa.

Tracy Rodgers, who reportedly was crowned Ms. Nevada this year and Mrs. Nevada in 2007, struck the rear of the bus with her car.

The company's license was revoked June 13 after it failed to provide proof of insurance, DeBruyne said.

Records show the company, based in Burlingame in the San Francisco Bay Area, has an active business license in California . When reached by phone, a man who answered said, "We don't have any comment on that."

The company could face charges at both the state and federal levels, Nevada Highway Patrol trooper Jeremie Elliott said . The bus driver was attempting a U-turn onto a dirt strip connecting the northbound and southbound lanes of the freeway. Only emergency vehicles are allowed to use the strips, he said.

Rodgers was in critical but stable condition Friday evening at University Medical Center , where Elliott thought she was suffering from broken bones and external and internal injuries.

Investigators are looking into why Rodgers was not able to stop before striking the bus. Elliott said there were no skid marks from her car at the scene. He said investigators don't think she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Eight passengers on the tour bus were hurt, but did not suffer major injuries.

Friends of Rodgers' told KTNV-TV, Channel 13, she was set to compete in the Ms. United States competition at the Las Vegas Hilton next month.

Review-Journal reporter Mike Blasky contributed to this report. Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at lmower@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0440.

 

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