Bus Owner Has History of Trouble

Federal judge orders to bus company owner to cease all operations

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The fatal bus accident last week was not the first sign of trouble for the owner of the bus company.

    A federal judge issued an emergency order this weekend forbidding the owner of an illegal bus company, involved in a wreck that killed six people last week, from running any more buses.

    District Court Judge George King ordered the owner of Tierra Santa Inc., Los Angeles resident Cayetano Martinez, to cease transporting people across state lines. Federal safety officials said Martinez had been ordered shut down before, but had resumed operations under another company name.

    "Martinez has shown a persistency and determination to continue operating under new entities and business," alleges a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney's office in Los Angeles.

    Tierra Santa Inc. ceased operation Friday evening at the demand of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Saturday's order makes the shutdown enforceable by the Court, said Duane DeBruyne, a spokesperson for the Federal Department of Transportation.

    On March 5, a bus traveling from the central Mexican state of Zacatecas to Los Angeles was headed to Phoenix to change drivers when it hit a pickup truck near Sacaton, Ariz. It veered onto the left shoulder of the freeway, the driver overcorrected and it rolled, killing six people and injuring more than a dozen.

    The consent decree also prohibits Martinez, or any affiliated company, from "contracting with or arraigning for additional transportation of passengers unless the contracted motor carrier possesses valid operating authority" from the federal agency.

    Debruyne said the consent decree does not absolve Martinez from possible future civil penalities from the Transportation Department for violations of federal motor carrier safety regulations.

    "It is absolutely essential that unsafe carriers like this one be taken off the road," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a news statement. "Safety is our number one priority at the Department of Transportation, and we will not rest until this accident has been fully investigated."