A private charter bus taking retired people to a casino in Oklahoma flipped on its side this morning on State Highway 161 (the new President George Bush Turnpike) near Belt Line Road. The bus hit a barrier, careened to the left, hit another barrier, and overturned.
Noone was wearing seat belts, as suggested by a new federal rule passed just last year, and the passengers were thrown in every direction and out of the bus.
My prayers go out to the families of the two victims. Sue Taylor, who was 81 and lived in Hurst, had organized these bus for many years and Paula Hahn, 69, lived in Fort Worth. Four of the 42 other victims are in critical condition, including the driver, Loyd Rieve, 65, of Dallas. Eleven people were rushed to Parkland Hospital, eleven to Baylor Medical Center, and the others were being treated at local hospitals.
This is the second fatality collision that this driver has been involved in. Rieve previoulsy struck a Good Samaritan who was assisting a broken down vehicle not far from today’s site, killing him. The parents of the deceased man filed suit, claiming that Rieve was speeding and had a history of traffic collisions, Although the jury found that the bus company was guilty of gross negligence, it also found that the Good Samaritan was mostly at fault for the collision and awarded no damages.
The small bus company, Cardinal Coach Line Inc., is owned by Matt and Teresa Biran of Mansfield. An inspection conducted by the Texas Department of Public Safety found two minor violations during an inspection of the bus line last week, including a speeding ticket and improperly completed log book, and several similar violations were found in the last inspection in 2011. It was founded in 2007 and filed for bankruptcy the next year, and had a large tax lien filed against it in December.
It was initially reported that the reason the bus flipped was because a tire had blown out. This was not true. A personal injury attorney, working with field investigators and experts, will determine the exact causes of a crash. For starters, we demand to know things like:
1. Was the driver qualified to drive? What was his prior driving history? How long had he been driving? For whom?
2. Was the driver properly trained to drive that particular bus? By whom? Was he properly supervised? Was continuing training required?
3. Was he tired, taking medications, or using alcohol before the trip? How many hours had he driven in the week before? Did this exceed federal guidelines?
4. Was he using a cell phone, texting, or distracted?
5. Was he being rushed by his company? What time was he required to leave and be at his destination? Was he paid more if he drove faster?
6. Had the bus been properly maintained? Had the driver inspected the bus before he begain driving? What do maintenance records reveal? When was the bus last inspected? Did the bus company have a history of improper maintenance?
The Law Offices of William K. Berenson are experienced in handling cases like this. We recently obtained the full insurance policies from all available insurance policies for a nice mother of three in Southlake after an incompetent bus driver crashed into her small Honda, causing her to have a three level fusion of her neck. We investigate the crash and file suit against all responsible parties, including the driver and bus company.
If you or a loved one was injured in this bus crash or in any other collision, call this office immediately at 817-885-8000 or 1-888-801-8585. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, lost wages, disfigurement, or pain and suffering.