Several families and friends are left to mourn their loved one after the deadly fiery crash that occurred on Interstate 5 in Northern California in April 2014. The crash, which gained nationwide media attention, involved a FedEx truck and a charter bus filled with high school students on their way to visit Humboldt State University. Eleven people were killed in the crash.
A heartbroken mother of a teenager who was among those killed is suing the bus company and FedEx for negligence. The lawsuit alleges FedEx trucks have a history of catching on fire, and the family is seeking $100 million in damages. This is the first lawsuit filed in association with the fiery crash.
The FedEx truck crossed a grassy freeway median in Northern California and slammed into the charter bus carrying 44 high school students and chaperones on April 10, 2014. Five high school students and five chaperones as well the driver of the FedEx truck were killed in the crash. A large number of teenagers were able to escape through the windows of the bus before it exploded into a ball of flames, however, some were not so fortunate, and died in the accident.
The horrific accident heard across the nation left many people saddened, and confused on how such an accident could occur. USA Today reports that federal investigators have so far found no evidence that the FedEx truck involved was already on fire when it slammed into the charter bus. The National Transportation Safety Board fire investigators examined the median and the highway for signs that the truck was on fire pre-impact; no such evidence was found. This preliminary conclusion is contrary to witness reports. Witnesses observed the FedEx truck on Interstate 5 moments before it plowed into the charter bus, and claimed that it was in flames as it came through the median. The flames were coming from underneath and wrapping around the tractor.
Initial reports stated the FedEx truck swerved to avoid hitting a sedan. Investigators are hopeful they will be able to calculate the speed and maneuvering use via the transmission and marks in the steering box. Investigators are also examining whether fire safety measures they previous recommended for motor coaches could have allowed more of the 48 charter bus occupants to escape unharmed.
Motorcoach Federal Safety Regulations
The crash has raised questions about whether federal safety regulations have kept up with the booming motor coach business. Over 29,000 motorcoaches carry 700 million passengers a year, a number comparable to the United States domestic airlines industry. Motorcoach safety concerns were raised decades ago pertaining to the requirement of passenger seat belts. They were raised in again in 2011 during a congressional hearing about the need to issue new standards so passengers could easily open windows and emergency exits. The Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2012 signed by President Obama has made some difference in safety. The legislation will require charter and tour buses to have seat belts for every passenger, crush-resistant roofs, anti-ejection glazing on their window, as well as all buses driven by trained and medically certified drivers. Furthermore, the legislation requires motorcoaches to carry tamper-proof event recorders and be subjected to more strenuous inspections and reporting requirements.
The Act so far has brought a lot of attention to the motorcoach industry, but enforcement has been dismal. There are only 350 federal inspectors for every 750,000 motorcoaches in the United States.
If you or loved one has been in an automobile, truck or bus accident, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Solnick & Associates, LLC can serve you and best protect your rights. Contact us at (215) 481-9979 for a confidential consultation.