The following are descriptions of fatal crashes involving 9- to 15-passenger vans that were investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.
April 4, 2002: A 15-passenger Ford E-350 van, driven by a 27-year-old driver and transporting six children to school, was southbound in the left lane of Interstate 240 in Memphis, TN. The van was owned and operated by a private child care center. A witness stated the van was traveling 65 mph when it drifted from the left lane, across two other lanes, and off the right side of the roadway. The van then overrode the guardrail and continued to travel along the dirt and grass embankment until the front of the van collided with the back of the guardrail and a light pole. The rear of the van rotated counterclockwise, and the front and right side of the van struck the bridge abutment at an overpass before coming to rest. The driver was ejected through the windshield and sustained fatal injuries. Four of the children sustained fatal injuries, and two were seriously injured. NTSB determined the probable cause of this crash was the absence of oversight by the child care center and the driver’s inability to maintain control of his vehicle because he fell asleep, likely due to an undiagnosed sleep disorder. The driver’s marijuana use also may have had a role in the crash. Contributing to the crash was the Tennessee Department of Human Services’ lack of oversight of child care transportation. Contributing to the severity of the injuries were the use of a 15-passenger van to transport pupils, the non-use of appropriate restraints, and the design of the roadside barrier system.
July 1, 2001: A 1989 Dodge Ram 15-passenger van was northbound in the left lane on U.S. Route 220, near Randleman, NC, en route from Myrtle Beach, SC, to Roanoke, VA. The van, owned by a church in Roanoke, was occupied by the driver and 13 passengers, ages 13 to 19. As the vehicle traveling at 65 mph experienced a left rear tire tread separation and blowout, the van moved from the left lane into the right lane, then back into the left lane, where it overturned and came to rest in the travel lanes. During the accident sequence, four passengers were ejected, one of whom was fatally injured and three of whom sustained serious injuries. The driver and the other nine passengers sustained injuries ranging from none to serious.
May 8, 2001: A 1993 Dodge Ram 15-passenger van was eastbound on U.S. Route 82 near Henrietta, TX, en route from Burkburnett, TX, to an outlet mall in Gainesville, TX. The driver and 11 passengers, all members of a local church, occupied the van. The vehicle traveling between 61 and 67 mph experienced a left rear tire tread separation and blowout. The van departed the roadway and rolled over at least two times in the median, ejecting seven passengers before coming to final rest. The driver and three of the ejected passengers sustained fatal injuries, and eight passengers sustained serious injuries. View an NTSB accident investigation simulation of the crash.
January 25, 2001: A 2000 Dodge 15-passenger van, owned and operated by the Salvation Army, departed a Salvation Army facility in Chicago with the driver and 10 passengers, en route to correctional institutions in Dwight and Pontiac, IL. The trip was sponsored by the Salvation Army’s Correctional Services Program, and the service was provided to family members of offenders incarcerated in the correctional facilities. After having traveled some 32 miles, the van, traveling in the southbound left lane of Interstate 55, slid out of control on the icy road surface, crossed the 40-foot-wide median, and was struck by a tractor trailer traveling at about 60 to 65 mph in the northbound lane. Four van occupants were ejected. The crash resulted in fatal injuries to all 11 van occupants. The truck driver received minor injuries.