Party bus company's permit suspended after child's death - KPTV - FOX 12

Party bus company's permit suspended after child's death

Posted: Updated: Oct 2, 2012 07:47 PM

As the investigation continues into the party bus accident which killed 11-year-old Angie Hernandez, the city of Portland has temporarily suspended the permit of the company which operated the bus, according to the regulatory division.

Fox 12 learned the bus involved in the accident, operated by Five Star Limousine, did not have a permit on record, according to city officials. The Department of Transportation for both Oregon and Washington couldn't find a permit for the vehicle either, according to spokespersons.

A permit issued by the city of Portland requires an annual inspection by an ASE certified master automobile mechanic.

Additionally, records show the driver of the party bus did not have a commercial driver's license, as required when driving a vehicle which seats 16 or more.

So far no charges have been filed, but Portland police are still investigating the cause of the deadly accident. Investigators say an expert in bus mechanics will look at the emergency latches on all the windows. 

It's still not known how Hernandez fell out of the bus. Police said she was sitting on top of her seat and appeared to have leaned against the emergency window as the bus was turning in the area of Southwest First Avenue and Harrison Street in downtown Portland Saturday evening.

Hernandez was one of about 20 children and teens headed to her cousin's quinceanera celebration.

Portland police are working with the District Attorney's Office and Portland's Regulatory Division to look into the various factors involved.

John Case, the elected limousine company representative on the city of Portland's Transportation Board of Review, said every car or bus for hire is supposed to have a sticker indicating it's been inspected and approved by the city.

"The (city) code has been rewritten to make sure all party buses and vehicles for hire are safe for the people who expect them to be safe," Case said.

He said the next step is better enforcement. A new city ordinance would require police to pull over vehicles or party buses in violations, Case said

At this point, it's too early to know what factors led to Saturday's tragedy, but Case said it will no doubt raise awareness.

"It's a crying shame that this tragedy had to happen to get people moving on this at the city level, but it has, and it will, and I think big changes will occur," Case said.

The general manager of Five Star Limousine declined an interview on Tuesday, but spoke to Fox 12 over the phone saying this has turned into a "witch hunt." He also said the vehicle in question was legal.

His attorney later issued the following statement:

"Five Star Limousine expresses its sincere condolences to the family and friends of Angie Hernandez. This was a tragic accident. Five Star has made an initial contribution to a bank account to help Angie's family and asks that anyone that wants to help her family make a contribution to this account. Donations can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank branch to the Angie Hernandez Memorial Fund.

"Five Star has been and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement and various administrative agencies who are investigating how this accident occurred."

Meanwhile, the attorney for driver Martin Brouwer also issued a statement which says he has been "devastated and traumatized by this tragic accident."

It reads in part:

"Mr. Brouwer grieves deeply for the family of Angie Hernandez, and all who have been touched by her loss. He has made a donation to the fund established for her, and will be cooperating fully with all investigations that are conducted to determine what happened that afternoon.

"At this point, Mr. Brouwer can only convey his most sincere sense of profound sympathy for those who have suffered loss in this matter and continue to cooperate in every way possible…."

Fox 12 reached out to the family of Angie Hernandez, and at this point they're not commenting.

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