Feds investigating recalled tire's role in fatal church van crash

A fatal crash involving the failure of a tire on a New Port Richey church van is now under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. 
 
According to the NTSB, the tire that failed was a two-year-old BFGoodrich Commerical T/A A/S that was part of a 2012 product recall involving 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."
 
On Feb. 21, a First Baptist New Port Richey church van on its way to a youth camp in Georgia overturned in Lake City after its left rear tire experienced a malfunction due to a tire tread separation. Four people were ejected including Jeff Novak, 52, and Michalanne Salliotte, 44, who both died as a result. The eight others on board, which included seven children, were all treated at the hospital for injuries. 
 
Millie Green's daughter Sherri Paules, 45, and her grandson Eric, 12, were two of the survivors.
 
"My heart was just exploding with emotions that you can't even describe," Green said.
 
The NTSB is currently examining the tire and reviewing the effectiveness of the product recall process to determine if the church ever received the safety recall notice.
 
Charles Calise, the owner of Signature Tire & Auto Care, says tire issues can typically be caught in advance if you get your tires regularly inspected. He advises having a professional check them every time you get your oil changed. 
 
Calise says it's also crucial to register your tires, using the DOT number, with the tire manufacturer. This way, the company can get in touch with you if an issue arises that prompts a recall.
 
Wednesday evening, Green said she was happy to hear the feds are now investigating.
 
"I'm glad they're being very thorough because the families deserve that," she said. "They deserve to know what happened."
 
ABC Action News reached out to the First Baptist Church of New Port Richey, but church officials said they had no comment. 
 
The crash remains under investigation by both the NTSB and the Florida Highway Patrol.

 

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