Kansas-based party bus service ordered to shut down after fatality

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 6/4/2013

A party bus service has been declared an imminent hazard by federal regulators after a compliance review found the company was operating “an unauthorized and unsafe commercial transportation service.”

Midnight Express LLC, of Olathe, KS, and its owners – Adam Breidenthal, Derrick Hansroth and Edward Goetz have been ordered to cease operating all passenger-carrying commercial vehicle operations, according to a release issued Tuesday, June 4, by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The compliance review was initiated following a May 4incident in which a passenger, 26-year-old Jamie Frecks, fell out of the back emergency exit in Kansas City and was killed when several vehicles ran her over. A subsequent inspection of the vehicle by the Kansas Highway Patrol found that realigned seating modifications made to the vehicle resulted in all four emergency exit windows being blocked. Inspectors found that the rear emergency exit window was also blocked and that the release mechanism was inoperable. Inspectors found serious deficiencies with the vehicle’s brakes and discovered engine exhaust leaks beneath the passenger compartment.

Based on findings by the Kansas Highway Patrol inspectors, the FMCSA launched a federal investigation, during which FMCSA investigators found that the Midnight Express owners failed to ensure that their drivers were qualified and had complied with federal hours-of-service regulations. Drivers were not subjected to random drug and alcohol tests as required by federal regulations. In addition, Midnight Express owners failed to obtain USDOT passenger carrier operating authority and failed to carry $5 million in liability insurance, which is federally required for all commercial passenger carriers. 

A copy of the imminent hazard out-of-service order can be found here.

The Wyandotte County, KS, district attorney’s office is continuing its criminal investigation.

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