COLUMBIA – Federal officials have ordered a South Carolina church that owned the bus involved in a collision that killed four people to stop for-hire operations immediately.
The bus was carrying 46 team members and others associated with Rock Hill’s Ramah Juco Academy football team – including about two dozen Clinton College students - when it crashed into a guardrail and then a bridge on U.S. 74 in Richmond County, N.C. More than 40 people were injured.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued an order Monday saying owner Sandy River Baptist Church in Chester did not make sure its drivers were properly licensed, passed drug tests or complied with rest requirements.
The church’s bus operations were “reckless, with almost nonexistent management supervision,” the agency ruled. The bus, listed as a private carrier, was not allowed to carry passengers for money like a charter company, federal officials said.
The church had no records of whether it checked to see if its drivers had proper licenses, any tickets on their records or whether they had passed drug tests, according to the order. No records were kept on how long drivers were on the road or whether they passed drug tests, federal officials said.
The church owned the bus that crashed Sept. 17 in Hamlet, North Carolina. Troopers have said the bus had a flat tire and slammed into a guardrail and bridge support. Killed in the crash were the driver, 43-year-old Brian Andre Kirkpatrick of Chester; Clinton College students Devonte Gibson, 21, of Rock Hill and Tito Hamilton, 19, of Pahokee, Fla; and Darice Lamont Hicks Jr., 8, of Rock Hill.
It wasn’t clear if the church had any drivers other than Kirkpatrick.
A phone call to the church went unanswered Monday.