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11 Defendants Settle With Sherman Bus Crash Victims

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Eleven of the companies and individuals sued by the families of victims in a 2008 Sherman bus crash that killed 17 people on their way to a religious retreat have agreed to out-of-court settlements.

The settlements were noted in a court order signed by the presiding judge on June 13.

Among the settling parties are the operator of the charter bus company, the company that inspected the bus before the trip and the firm that retreaded the blown-out tire that caused the crash. The financial terms were not revealed.

Six defendants remain in the litigation that accuses multiple parties of negligence.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation determined that a tire puncture caused the crash. The investigation found that a retreaded tire on the vehicle’s right front axle failed.

David Taylor, a Dallas attorney who represented the company that retreaded the tire, Henise Tire Service of Cleona, Pa., said his client admitted no responsibility by settling.

“We believe we had a case we could defend, but our client wanted to get this matter behind them,” Taylor said.

Phil Sellers, the attorney for the charter operator, Angel de la Torre, declined comment. An attorney for the vehicle inspection company, 5 Minute Inspections, did not respond to phone and email messages from The Associated Press.

The 2002 model motor coach was one of two purchased by de la Torre from Motor Coach Industries 16 days before the accident. The blown tire was in a batch bought by Motor Coach Industries from Henise Tire Service in 2007.

Both Motor Coach Industries and de la Torre have denied placing the retread on the front axle.

Fifty-five members of Houston’s Vietnamese Catholic community were en route to Missouri when the bus plunged over a highway bridge near Sherman about 60 miles north of Dallas.

The bus smashed into a guard rail on a bridge that sits about 15 feet above a creek, apparently skidding along the guard rail before sliding off U.S. 75. The bus came to a rest on its right side.

Witnesses who called 911 after the deadly crash described a chaotic scene, telling emergency personnel of bloody passengers crushed beneath the smoking wreck of the bus.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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