Order Shuts Down Bus Operator in Phoenix Crash

DOT says the company did not have operating authority registration to provide transportation within the United States, and a federal judge signed an order on Saturday enjoining it from operating until it obtains FMCSA registration.

U.S. District Judge George King of Los Angeles signed an order March 6 enjoining Tierra Santa Inc. and its owner, Los Angeles resident Cayetano Martinez, from operating commercial bus service in the United States until one of them obtains valid operating authority registration from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Tierra Santa was operating the bus that struck a car and rolled over March 5 on Interstate 10 about 25 miles south of Phoenix, killing six passengers. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced within hours that the bus company was operating illegally by operating any bus inside the United States.

King's order followed a consent decree agreed to March 5 by Martinez, Tierra Santa, and DOT. FMCSA then made an emergency request to obtain the order; Tierra Santa had already ceased operation as FMCSA demanded.

The FMCSA complaint alleges Martinez has repeatedly operated motor vehicles transporting passengers in interstate and foreign commerce without the proper registration. The consent decree does not prevent FMCSA from assessing future civil penalties against him. "It is absolutely essential that unsafe carriers like this one be taken off the road," LaHood said. "Safety is our number one priority at the Department of Transportation, and we will not rest until this accident has been fully investigated."

"FMCSA investigators are working tirelessly so that we can prevent such a senseless loss of life from happening again," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "We thank the United States attorney's office for their outstanding partnership in bringing this emergency action forward so quickly."

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