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17th bus passenger dies

The death toll now stands at 17 in a deadly crash of a charter bus that skidded off a freeway in Sherman. The unlicensed bus was carrying a Vietnamese Catholic group to an annual pilgrimage early Friday. More than 40 people were injured.

Cham T. Nguyen, an 89-year-old female, died at Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital. Hospital officials confirmed the death Saturday.

Authorities said today the charter bus that crashed on Friday was likely equipped with a recording device that, if found, could help provide answers to what might have led to the wreck.

The National Transportation Safety Board held a news conference this afternoon and said they believe the 2002 model bus, a 45-foot-long motor coach, contained a device similar to a black box on an airplane. They said the device can record information, and it could be used to help investigators learn how fast the bus was going, and whether the driver hit the brakes or the accelerator at the time of the crash, said Debbie Hersman, a member of the NTSB.

The 16th victim was Sueann Nguyen, 50. She died at 10:35 p.m. Friday at Methodist Hospital in Dallas.

Officials on Saturday released the names of the dead and injured from the crash, which happened shortly before 1 a.m. Friday along U.S. 75 in Sherman.

Ten women and six men died in the crash. The youngest of the dead was 27-year-old Thuy Thu Vu. The oldest was Boi Nguyen, 84. Both were among the 12 people who died at the scene. A 9-year-old, an 11-year-old and three 12-year-olds were among the injured.

The conditions of the injured were not released.

Also Saturday, the driver of the bus was identified as Barrett Wayne Broussard, 52, of Houston. Broussard survived the crash and has been talking with investigators. He was reported to be in stable condition.

Broussard was convicted in 2001 of driving while intoxicated in Houston and sentenced to 10 days in prison and a $225 fine, according to online records from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The bus left Houston late Thursday and was headed for Carthage, Mo., for an annual Catholic celebration of the Virgin Mary.

By late morning Saturday, traffic on U.S. 75 was back to normal and a damaged guardrail had been replaced.

Several bouquets of carnations, tulips and roses were left down the embankment amid shards of glass and burn scars in the grass.

The vehicle's right front tire, which blew out, had been retreaded in violation of safety standards, Hersman said. The bus slid along the guardrail and fell about 12 feet, landing on its side in a dry creekbed.

The bus operator, Iguala BusMex Inc. of Houston, had applied in June for a federal license to operate as a charter but was still awaiting approval, according to online records.

The company recently filed incorporation papers, listing the same owner and address as Angel Tours Inc., which was forced by federal regulators to take its vehicles out of interstate service June 23 after an unsatisfactory review.

The review cited the company for problems in three areas: using a driver before receiving a pre-employment result, failing to require a driver to prepare a vehicle inspection report and using a driver who wasn't medically re-examined every two years.

Neither entity is authorized to operate as a carrier in interstate commerce, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

A man at Angel Tours in Houston declined to comment Friday. The company's voicemail system was full Saturday and not accepting new messages. No one answered Saturday at a listing for the company's attorney.

"We're in the middle of a very intense investigation," attorney Keena Greyling told the Houston Chronicle in a story on its Web site Saturday. "Because of that, we really can't discuss anything further."

Sharon Watson, executive director of the American Red Cross for the Texoma area, said a respite center would be set up at a church in Sherman. The local Red Cross has assisted six families in this disaster, but more are being helped in Fort Worth, Dallas and Houston, she said.

About 900 people gathered Friday night at Vietnamese Martyrs Church for a Mass attended by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, who called the deaths "incomprehensible."

Organizers of the festival in Missouri said the victims would be remembered at Mass and at various conferences during the gathering.

The Sherman Police Department has set up a hot line for anyone trying to recover property that was left on the bus. That number is 903-217-7651.

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