NTSB launches investigation into I-75 crash, delayed by government shutdown

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WCJB)-- UPDATE 02/01/2019:

Officials with the Florida Highway Patrol said the investigation into the I-75 crash could take months, but that they've combed through evidence and are ready to assist NTSB investigators.

In a press release, the NTSB said the partial government shutdown led to staffing issues that prevented the agency from initiating several investigations around the country, one of them the I-75 crash.

NTSB officials said because of the delay, some perishable evidence may have been lost, which could prevent the determination of probable cause.

TV20 asked Lieutenant Patrick Riordan, a spokesperson for FHP, about the difference between the two investigations.

"They've got a different mission," Riordan said. "They may be looking at some things that are a little broader in scope. They're doing more of a safety investigation."

Riordan said FHP's investigation is centered on the crash and the resulting fatalities, or traffic homicides.

"This is a painstakingly long investigation because there's a lot of moving parts," Riordan said. "We want to make sure that when we conclude this investigation we're very factual about what transpired."

TV20 also spoke with Charles Riddle, the District Attorney in Marksville, Louisiana, the home of the five children who were killed in the crash.

"Thank god the shutdown is over, at least for now. And they're able to work it. I will say that everything that FHP has done has been tremendous in their investigation and trying to sort through all of this and that will take some time," Riddle said. "But again, the NTSB involved will be great news for the families too. They want it investigated as much as possible."

Riddle said that charity, both in Gainesville and Louisiana, has kept the families going.

"People just trying to help in any way they could. Offers of places to stay, people in Gainesville were offering their homes, they were offering transportation," Riddle said. "The churches there were doing the same. So it was really neat, very good to see this. Very emotional for our parish."

Riddle said most of the families involved in the crash have brought in attorneys in Louisiana for representation.
UPDATE 01/30/2019:

NTSB tweeted out Wednesday afternoon, that they are sending an eight-member team to conduct a safety investigation of the I-75 crash that killed seven and injured eight in on January 3, 2019, during the partial government shutdown.

The investigation will begin Thursday.

NTSB is coordinating with Florida Highway Patrol, which opened its investigation immediately following the crash.
The investigation into the crash on I-75 that killed seven people has been hampered by the government shutdown, according to the National Transportation Board.

Almost every NTSB employee was furloughed during the shutdown.

NTSB agents are now evaluating their backlog of accidents to see whether they should still visit crash sites, or simply inspect wreckage being kept in storage.

The most deadly incident not investigated by the feds was the January 3rd crash that took the lives of five children headed to Disney World as well as two truck drivers.

The NTSB says it is possible that "perishable evidence may have been lost, which potentially could prevent determination of probable cause."