The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a fatal highway crash of a church van in Florida involving the catastrophic failure of a tire that was part of a July 2012 product recall.
The tire, a two-year-old BFGoodrich Commercial T/A A/S, was part of a product recall initiated by BFGoodrich for approximately 794,000 tires typically found on commercial light trucks and full size heavy-duty vans.
The safety recall notice sent to tire owners in July 2012 stated that "it is possible that any one of the tires being recalled may experience tread loss and/or rapid air loss resulting from tread belt separation. This condition may increase the risk of a vehicle crash."
The crash occurred on Interstate 75 in Lake City, Fla., on February 21 when the driver lost control of a 2002 Ford E350 XLT 15-passenger van after the tread separated from the left rear tire. The van rolled over and two adults and two juveniles were ejected from the vehicle. The two ejected adults died. The remaining occupants, one adult and seven children, were all injured.
The van was operated by the First Baptist Church in New Port Richey, Fla., and was en route to a church camp in Georgia.
The NTSB will be examining the tire and reviewing the effectiveness of the product recall process to determine if the First Baptist Church ever received the safety recall notice.
The NTSB is also investigating another multiple-fatality crash involving a failed tire. Although the tire involved, a 10-year-old Michelin Cross Terrain, was not the subject of a product recall, it also experienced a tread separation that led to a loss of control.
The collision, which involved a sport utility vehicle and a school bus carrying a high school baseball team, occurred on February 15 on US-90 near Centerville, Louisiana. In that crash, the driver of a 2004 Kia Sorento lost control of the SUV after the left rear tire experienced a tire tread sidewall separation and rapid air loss.
The Kia veered across a grassy median area and collided with a school bus traveling in the opposite direction. As a result of the collision, the Kia driver and three rear passengers were killed. The fourth Kia passenger was seriously injured. Of the 36 school bus occupants, 31 received injuries, ranging from minor to serious.
The failed tires involved in both accidents will undergo a laboratory analysis to identify the factors involved in the tread separations.