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Mlaker bus company 'satisfactory' despite 27 citations

| Saturday, March 16, 2013, 10:30 p.m.

The bus company hired to transport the Seton Hill University women's lacrosse team to a match in Lancaster County on Saturday morning has been cited for 27 violations for buses in its fleet over the past two years, according to federal records, including three citations that resulted in buses being yanked out of service.

The Mlaker Transportation Inc. bus hauling the team crashed near Carlisle, killing coach Kristina Quigley, 30, of Greensburg, her unborn son, and bus driver Anthony M. Guaetta, 61, of Johnstown. The crash injured 14 others.

There have been no fatal bus crashes involving Mlaker buses in the past two years, according to federal records.

The company, based in Davidsville, Somerset County, holds a “satisfactory” rating, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Bus companies can attain satisfactory, unsatisfactory or conditional ratings. Satisfactory is the best, meaning the company has functioning adequate safety management controls to meet the safety fitness standard set by federal guidelines.

Conditional ratings, the lowest, mean the company does not have adequate safety management controls in place to ensure compliance with safety standards.

In 2011, a Mlaker bus was involved in a two-vehicle crash in snowy conditions about midnight Nov. 11 on Beaver Avenue in Pittsburgh.

The bus had to be towed.

In the past two years, Mlaker buses failed three of 45 random inspections and were put out of service, according to federal motor carrier records.A dispatcher who answered the phone at the company's headquarters on Valley View Drive in Davidsville said investigators were sent to the scene.

“We're fully cooperating with police, but as of right now, we have no information,” said Kelly Hay, a dispatcher.

The company takes pride in providing safe transportation for customers, according to a statement on its website: “We take the safety of our passengers very seriously. Before we send one of our buses out on a trip, we thoroughly inspect each and every bus, to ensure that our buses are performing at their top performance.”

Duane DeBruyne, spokesman for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, declined to comment on the crash.

State commercial vehicle inspectors gave the bus line a satisfactory rating during an August 2010 review.

Records show Mlaker Transportation Inc. buses were pulled out of service three times: for an improper exhaust in May 2012, a cracked or loose frame in June 2011 and a defective maintenance of parts and accessories in May 2011.

Buses have also been marked for other violations, although not pulled off the road, for defective brakes, an inoperable required lamp, insufficient warning devices and a flawed brake hose, among others.

Amanda Dolasinski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6220 or adolasinski@tribweb.com.

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