According to news reports, a church bus carrying middle school students crashed and went down a snow-covered embankment in Lake Gregory in the San Bernardino Mountains on Monday. At least one person was killed, reportedly the driver of the bus, and 23 people were injured. Citing sources with the California Highway Patrol, ABC News reported ten people sustained serious injuries and thirteen suffered minor to moderate injuries. Officials labeled the tragic accident a mass casualty situation, and victims were taken to every available county hospital.
The bus was apparently carrying twenty-two people including middle and high school-aged children, members of a Korean church called Light of Love Mission Church in Pasadena. The bus had departed from the Pinecrest Christian Conference Center in Twin Peaks. For reasons not yet known, the church bus crashed head-on into a Nissan Murano, being driven by an off-duty San Bernardino Fire Battalion Chief, on SR-189 near Lake Gregory Drive just before noon. The collision sent the bus about 50 feet down a snowy embankment before it crashed into a tree, according to the Callifornia Highway Patrol.
See the full story and photographs HERE.
Under California law, generally bus owners and operators must "use the utmost care and diligence for their passenger's safe carriage, must provide everything necessary for the purpose, and must exercise to that end a reasonable degree of skill." Bus companies and public entities operating bus lines are known in the law as "common carriers". When they undertake the business of transporting the general public they bind themselves to carry safely those whom they take into their vehicles, and owe both a duty of utmost care and the vigilance of a very cautious person towards their passengers. Such carriers are responsible for any, even the slightest, negligence and are required to do all that human care, vigilance, and foresight reasonably can do under all the circumstances.
In the case above, it is very likely only a detailed investigation will explain what caused the impact between the church bus and the Nissan Murano. From preliminary reports, it does not appear that the weather was a factor. Additionally, officials at the scene have reportedly ruled out the possibility that drugs or alcohol contributed to this tragic bus accident. Absent credible eyewitness accounts, accident reconstruction experts will have to piece this collision sequence together to make any sense out of how this tragedy occurred.
Compensation for the victims of bus accidents, caused by another’s negligence, should be an important concern for all Californians. When a bus operator or other driver operates their vehicle in a careless or reckless manner, they should be held accountable. An Orange County trial lawyer with experience at handling such cases can make a fair assessment of these claims. Mr. Ralph has 20 years of experience handling personal injury cases, including just this type. He can be reached at 714-919-4415 for a FREE CONSULTATION.
Have you or a loved one been injured in a bus accident caused by neglect?
- Nothing in this post is intended to suggest the Law Offices of Paul W. Ralph currently represents anyone involved in the news story above. This posting should not be construed as legal advice or an opinion on the merit of any particular matter. A consultation is the best way to obtain an assessment of your potential case.