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Federal investigators to release info on 2005 Chippewa Falls bus crash

A federal panel will meet Tuesday to review a 2005 bus-truck crash in Eau Claire County, which killed five people with the Chippewa Falls High School Band.

The National Transportation Safety Board will announce what roles the two drivers had in the mishap and the panel could recommend safety improvements as a result.

Board spokesman Peter Knudson said there were fatigue issues involved.

Truck driver Michael Kozlowski of Indiana was delivering produce to Minnesota when his rig lost control and overturned in the opposite lanes of Interstate-94 near Osseo.

The bus, driven by Paul Rasmus, 78, hit the rig. It was one of five Chippewa Falls band buses heading home after a competition that night in Whitewater.

Kozlowski was later found innocent of criminal charges and his lawyer said Rasmus could have avoided the crash had he been wearing his required glasses.

But the bus driver's widow said Rasmus did nothing wrong and the truck didn't have reflectors which might have alerted Rasmus earlier to the overturned rig.

Knudson says the board only meets about 30 times a year on accident investigations. Most are handled without meetings.

Knudson said the bus crash probe took so long because of the board's workload, not because the accident had complex issues.