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Investigators mystified as to bus crash cause
New York investigators tried to determine Sunday why this Coach Canada charter bus swerved and hit a parked tractor-trailer Saturday so hard that the impaled bus split in half lengthwise.

Associated Press

WINDSOR, Ontario - Investigators on Sunday sought to determine why a bus chartered for a Canadian hockey team swerved and rammed a parked tractor-trailer so hard that the bus split in half lengthwise, killing four people and injuring 19.

Visibility at the time of the Saturday afternoon wreck in western New York was good, and the highway was dry and clear, state police Maj. Steven White said.

White said the bus driver, Ryan Comfort of Ontario, told police that he hit something in the road before the crash, but investigators had not yet verified that.

White said Comfort, being treated at a hospital in Rochester, N.Y., was being watched by a state trooper to ensure that he does not leave the United States.

No charges had been filed. "However, that doesn't mean (the driver) is not a person of interest," Livingston County District Attorney Thomas Moran told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent a three-member team to investigate, NTSB spokesman Paul Schlamm said.

The Coach Canada bus was chartered by the Windsor Wildcats, a club hockey team of women ages 18 to 21. After a morning game in Rochester, it was taking some of the players, as well as family members and coaches, to a ski center when it struck the truck on Interstate 390, 27 miles south of Rochester.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, owned by Xtra Lease Inc. of Mechanicsburg, Pa., had parked it on the shoulder and was outside the cab when the bus rear-ended the rig, police said.

The truck driver, Ernest Dale Zeiset, 42, of Womelsdorf, Pa., and three bus passengers were killed. The bus passengers were identified as the team's coach Richard Edwards, 46, and his 13-year-old son Brian, from LaSalle, Ontario, and Catherine Roach, 50, of Windsor, Ontario, the mother of a player.

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Friends described Edwards as a well-known figure in the community who loved coaching hockey and baseball. His wife, Sheila, was the team trainer and manager. His 21-year-old daughter, Kelly, was the goalie on the team. Both survived the crash.

"They were a true sports family," said Kevin Beaudoin, president of the LaSalle Minor Hockey Association, where Edwards also coached. "Whatever they did, they did as a family so it's not ironic that they were on that bus."

Three passengers were in guarded condition Sunday at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, hospital spokeswoman Leslie Orr said. She said Comfort was in satisfactory condition with a knee injury.

Dean Lapierre, president of Windsor Minor Hockey, said he worked with Edwards at a car manufacturing plant.

"This affects the whole community, the whole hockey community, which is so tight around here," Lapierre said.

Copyright © 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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