Trial Begins in Deadly Rita Bus Fire

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Trial begins Monday in McAllen for a bus company over a fire that killed 23 nursing home residents who were fleeing Hurricane Rita.

The head of Global Limo is accused -- in federal court -- of conspiring to falsify driver time records and failing to inspect buses to ensure their safety.

James Maples faces up to five years in prison if convicted of the conspiracy charge. Hefty fines also are possible.

His lawyer Maples is innocent.

Last September's accident near Dallas is believed to have been caused by an overheated bearing in the rear wheel well. Investigators say that probably was the result of poor maintenance.

Since the fiery accident, the Department of Transportation has issued new guidelines for transporting medical oxygen.

The bus driver is an illegal immigrant from Mexico who was cleared of charges -- in exchange for his cooperation.

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