NTSB: Shutdown delayed 97 crash investigations

NTSB: Shutdown delayed 97 crash investigations
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The head of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Monday that the agency was forced to delay investigations on 97 accidents and crashes during the recent partial government shutdown.

"Now that we’re back in business we’re going back and doing the best that we can to begin the investigative processes on each of those events," NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said during an unveiling of the board's "Most Wanted List" of transportation safety improvements for the coming year.

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Sumwalt said that in most of the 97 incidents, the wreckage has been moved to a storage facility, making it possible that evidence that investigators would use to determine the cause of a crash has been lost.

"Since our investigations result in safety recommendations designed to correct deficiencies noted in the investigation, honestly I worry that due to the government shutdown-related delay in our getting on scene, we may have lost potential life-saving information," Sumwalt said.

The NTSB was among the federal agencies impacted by the government shutdown, which lasted 35 days before ending last month. The board is not able to implement regulations, but rather makes recommendations based on its findings in investigations.

Roughly 25 percent of the federal government was shuttered from Dec. 22 until Jan. 25 amid a standoff between President TrumpDonald John TrumpForget the spin: Five unrefuted Mueller Report revelations Lara Trump: Merkel admitting migrants 'one of the worst things that ever happened to Germany' Financial satisfaction hits record high: survey MORE and congressional Democrats over the president's demand for $5.7 billion in funding for a wall along the southern border.

Trump signed legislation late last month that did not include money for a wall, but that reopened the government until Feb. 15. He has said he's willing to shut down the government again or declare a national emergency if lawmakers don't provide border security funding to his liking, though the latter move would likely prompt legal challenges.