Indianapolis School Bus Crash Kills Driver, One Student
On March 12, 2012, a bus ride to school became deadly for a 5-year-old girl and the driver of the bus. In addition, 10 other children were taken to the hospital with injuries. The bus accident occurred on South Emerson Avenue when the bus that was carrying 26 kids crashed into a bridge support around 7:45 a.m.
The reason for the crash is still unclear. According to investigators, the bus, owned by Miller Transportation in Louisville, Kentucky, was in good working order when it left the depot that morning. A bus driver that was following the bus that crashed stated that the other driver was not going above the posted 35-mph speed limit. Videotape from the bus does not show any sort of disruption on the bus that would have caused the driver to divert his attention from the road. Preliminary autopsy results on the bus driver do not indicate any medical condition that could have contributed to the crash, but this possibility has not been ruled out.
A couple other possible causes include the weather and driver distraction. The pavement was wet at the scene of the accident when police arrived, but they are unsure whether or not it was raining at the time of the crash. It is possible the wet pavement caused the bus to slide or that rain made it more difficult for the driver to see where he was going. Distracted driving is another consideration. Although none of this has been proven, the driver could have been drinking his morning coffee or checking his cell phone, taking his eyes off the road just long enough to cause the crash.
One thing that is certain is that none of the children were wearing seatbelts. This is a certainty because seatbelts are not required in school buses by law and the bus they were riding in did not have seatbelts. Some lawsuits have been filed by parents of the victims against the state of Indiana for this reason. They are placing blame on the state for the injuries to their children because the law does not require them to wear seatbelts in school buses. Five of the lawsuits filed so far in this case – including a wrongful death suit filed by the family that lost their daughter – are also holding Miller Transportation responsible because there were no seatbelts available on the bus.
The wrongful death lawsuit also holds Miller Transportation responsible because their driver allegedly negligently ran the bus into the bridge support. Oftentimes companies are found liable for an accident by their drivers because they have not received proper training or, in the case of commercial truck drivers, they were required by the companies to drive longer than they should before receiving a break or being able to sleep.
This case highlights the danger of riding in a vehicle without wearing a seatbelt, even if it is a large bus that is designed to keep the passengers safe without seatbelts. It also illustrates why it is important to contact an Indiana or Kentucky personal injury attorney when you or someone you love is involved in an accident. There are often several factors involved that need to be considered. Steve Frederick is an experienced personal injury attorney that can help you with any car accident or other personal injury questions you may have.
Donasty Smith's family sues after fatal bus crash; WISH; March 22, 2012
Police find no mechanical problems with school bus involved in fatal crash; indystar.com; John Tuohy; March 14, 2012
Child, 5, driver killed in Indy bus crash; Courier-Journal; Tom Davies; March 12, 2012