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NTSB: Unused seat belts contributed to 2014 NCTC fatalities

The truck driver allegedly responsible for the crash in 2014 that killed four members of the North Central Texas College women's softball team denies drugs were a factor. The National Transportation Safety Board isn't convinced.

The investigative agency issued a report on the tragedy last month and declared that the driver likely had used synthetic cannabinoids while driving that day. It says that may have left him so incapacitated that it resulted in the wreck. But what may be equally notable is the NTSB's finding that deaths and injuries could have been limited if seat belts on the bus had been used.

What authorities have concluded about the crash is that the semitrailer truck was headed north on Interstate 35 in Oklahoma and the bus carrying the team was headed south. For some reason, the truck driver lost control, crossed a wide grassy median and slammed into the bus on the other side.

What we also know is that the medium-size bus had seat belts for passengers and that NCTC policy states that those belts are supposed to be used. That policy wasn't enforced and the belts weren't in use.

The truck driver in the case has been charged with four counts of first-degree manslaughter for the deaths that resulted. The mother of one of the victims is on record as saying she believes justice will have been served by a criminal trial. But some are bound to wonder if all the victims and their families feel the same way.

The grief and sense of loss felt after this kind of deadly accident can leave one numb to the reality that there may be recourse for justice beyond what's available through criminal court. Seeking compensation is a right that is available as part of the road to recovery and it deserves to be explored with an experienced attorney's help.

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