CONWAY, Mass (Reuters) - One man died and another was critically injured after both fell out of the window of a moving tour bus in Massachusetts, the third fatal bus accident in the Northeast in less than a month, authorities said on Sunday.
The weekend incident occurred shortly before the announcement of an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board into safety measures governing the discount tour bus industry.
Late on Saturday, the tour bus was returning passengers to Gardner, Massachusetts, from a visit to the Red Hook Brewery, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, said Massachusetts State Police Sergeant Matthew Murray.
The bus driver from Colonial Tours in Boston reported someone fell out of the vehicle as he drove along Route 2 in Lancaster, Massachusetts, police said.
Thomas Johnson, 31, of Gardner was killed and his friend, Seth Davis, 34, of Winchendon was critically injured, police said..
Authorities said alcohol consumption may have played a role although they were still investigating.
"There is some indication that these two men were engaged in some level of friendly horseplay," said Murray.
A state trooper who happened to be near the scene responding to another police call, spotted the two men in the highway's breakdown lane after they fell, police said.
At Colonial Tours on Sunday, the woman who answered the phone declined to comment, other than to say state police were investigating. The company website boasts "deluxe coaches" and "the most reasonable rates."
This is the fourth in a series of bus accidents in the Northeast -- the third in which people were killed -- in less than a month.
On March 12, a tour bus crashed on Interstate 95 in New York City, killing 15 passengers returning to the city's Chinatown neighborhood from a casino in Connecticut.
Two days later, another tour bus en route from Chinatown to Philadelphia crashed on the New Jersey Turnpike near East Brunswick, killing the driver and one passenger.
The following week, a tour bus carrying Korean tourists from Quebec to Boston crashed in New Hampshire, injuring passengers. No one was killed.
(Reporting by Zach Howard; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)