NTSB Warns Evidence for Deadly Plane Crash Investigations May Be Lost Due to Shutdown

Jan 29, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

At least 22 aviation, marine, rail and highway accidents that resulted in a total 32 fatalities were not investigated during the government shutdown, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Monday. The shutdown could have also compromised perishable evidence in crashes that happened while the government was closed.

NTSB investigators returned to work on Monday after the majority of the agency’s employees were furloughed in the US government shutdown.  As its full workforce returned to the office, the NTSB released some of the dire consequences the closure of the government had on crash investigations during the 35-day shutdown.

Most of the agency’s accident investigations were on hold during the shutdown because 367 of the NTSB’s 397 employees were furloughed: That’s more than 90% of the board’s workers. This left the NTSB unable to dispatch any investigators for 15 the aviation accidents that resulted in 21 fatalities during the shutdown.

In addition to the aviation incidents that went without a probe, the safety bureau says it was unable to look into a total of 22 crashes, including three marine accidents, two railroad accidents resulting in two fatalities and two highway accidents resulting in seven fatalities and 15 injuries.

“The 22 accidents in which the NTSB did not launch investigators, but would have if not for the partial shutdown, may not result in investigators physically visiting the accident sites, and, it is possible that perishable evidence may have been lost,” the agency wrote in a release on Monday, noting that this could prevent teams from determining the causes of the crashes.

The agency said it would begin drafting plans on how to address the work that piled up and evidence that could have been lost during the shutdown. Part of that determination is whether to send investigators to the crash sites, where sensitive evidence could be lost, or simply glean what information they can from wreckage and other clues.

Experts say this will certainly have a negative effect on the investigations.

“Those are accidents that we really should have looked at and were not able to do that now because it’s gone,” former NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker told the AP. “Without physically having an opportunity to look at it yourself, you really don’t get the exposure to it.”

Investigators were also forced to stop work on 1,815 ongoing “general aviation and limited aviation” safety investigations, as well as postponing a board meeting to determine why a plane overran a runway at an airport in Michigan. Scores of other probes into marine, railroad and highway incidents were also put on hiatus.

During the 35-day shutdown, four NTSB investigators were eventually recalled to work without pay to assist with three international aviation accident investigations, and a total of 26 workers were excepted from the effects of the shutdown. The government could shut down again after the temporary funding deal to which US President Donald Trump and Congress agreed expires on Feb. 15.

Featured image by NTSB via AP.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.