CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - The North Carolina Highway Patrol admits that the owner of a Charlotte party bus, that a UNC-Charlotte student fell out of and died, was operating illegally.
“The chances of someone unfortunately slipping under the radar, it’s a possibility, and unfortunately in this instance it happened,” Trooper Ray Pierce with NC Highway Patrol said.
The Highway Patrol said Victor Rabb operated illegally before he was caught. He’s the owner Charlotte Party Charters. Polly Rogers, 22, a student at UNC-Charlotte, was on when one of his buses when she fell out of an emergency window and died a week ago.
An inspection report on the Charlotte Party Charters bus shows that the vehicle was guilty of numerous violations including:
- No inadequate bus emergency exit, marking two exits not marked
- Windshield wipers inoperative/detective-washer inoperable
- Discharged fire extinguisher
- No warning devices
- Operating a CMV without proof of a periodic inspection - none
- Tire-front tread depth less than 4/32 of inch on major tread groove-left side measure
- Oil and/or grease leak- underneath engine left side
- State vehicle registration or license plat violation - not registered
- Displaying fictitious tag
- Failed to file Biennial FMCSA registration update as required
- No or obscure standee line
- State of internal fuel tax (IFTA) violation - none
FOX 46 Charlotte’s Robin Kanady asked Pierce, “He (Rabb) was just not on the radar at all?” Pierce responded, “Correct. Correct. It would be similar to someone driving their personal vehicle as a cab at the airport.”
Rabb has been slapped with about a dozen citations, including two that are criminal, according to the Highway Patrol. He’s charged with not having insurance on the party bus and having a fictitious license plate.
Investigators said the bus Rogers was on checked out when they inspected it after the deadly accident.
“As far as mechanically, the bus was mechanically fine, in good working order. The majority of these violations are civil fines,” Pierce said.
For days, FOX 46 Charlotte has tried to reach Rabb, going to five different addresses to try and track him down. On Tuesday, he finally answered the phone.
Kanady identified herself, “It’s Robin with FOX 46 Charlotte.”
She then asked Rabb over the phone, “Wanted to know why you were continuing to operate illegally?”
In summary, Rabb told Kanady he’s sick over what happened, he’s cooperating with authorities and can’t say anything until the investigation is over.
Kanady asked Pierce, “How was it that he was able to operate and fly under the radar? How did he slip through the cracks?”
Pierce responded, “As far as that goes, I don’t know. We are not in charge of doing random inspections. Basically, what we do is we go around and do inspections of businesses that are actually licensed to operate, and unfortunately, in this instance, this gentleman was not licensed to operate this business.”
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is investigating Rogers' death.
The Mecklenburg County ABC Board is working to find out if Rogers was intoxicated and if she was, who supplied the alcohol?
They're also looking to see if there was underage drinking and possible alcohol violations because the bus was not registered as a "for hire" vehicle. That means no one was supposed to be drinking beer or wine on the bus, but according to the police report, multiple passengers were drinking.