Greyhound removed cell phone from bus accident scene

FRESNO, Calif.

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Action News has exclusively obtained a search warrant saying the bus driver, James Jewett, had a cell phone, but it was taken away from the accident scene, and not by CHP investigators. Now, investigators want to find out if Jewett was on the phone before the accident.

CHP investigators say they saw attorneys, insurance agents and private investigators within hours of the accident that killed six people. Some of those people walked away with a critical piece of evidence.

When the flashing lights on the scene of the accident went dark and the yellow police tape came down, the investigation had only just begun.

Five months later, a search warrant obtained exclusively by Action News shows Greyhound was conducting its own investigation, parallel to the California Highway Patrol.

"CHP discovered that Greyhound personnel collected a cell phone from the collision scene," the warrant says. "The cell phone was subsequently turned over to a private investigative firm retained by Greyhound. The investigative firm determined the cell phone was Greyhound property issued to James Jewett, the bus driver."

Greyhound is still in possession of the phone, so the CHP had to get the warrant to get access and see if Jewett was on the phone before the accident. They won't reveal what they found.

An attorney for one of the victims says it's troubling to know the company was on the scene, gathering its own evidence.

"If nothing else, it certainly raises the appearance of impropriety, that they'd remove a piece of important evidence from the scene," said Paul Kiesel.

Greyhound wouldn't comment on the investigation, but a spokesperson told Action News, "As soon as we're aware of an accident, we send staff members to the scene to help the driver and passengers."

She wouldn't specify what kind of staff.

CHP investigators say they only recently found out about the phone. They say Greyhound didn't interfere with the investigation. They say it's possible the bus company got the evidence after the scene was cleared, and for their own reasons.

"I can only think that they also need to get all their facts straight," said CHP spokesman Axel Reyes. "Of course, they've got lawyers and they're facing multi-million dollar lawsuits."

Reyes says the CHP investigation has been very thorough. They even re-created the accident in October to get a better picture of what happened.

Investigators expect to wrap it all up in late January.

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