PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A South Jersey woman has filed suit in Philadelphia Commons Pleas Court Friday after she says she suffered severe head injuries in an Upstate New York bus crash that killed four people.
Candice Burks, 26-years-old of Mount Laurel, was among 28 passengers injured, including four who were killed, when the 13-foot-high double-decker bus collided into a railroad bridge with only a 10-foot-nine clearance and then rolled onto its side outside Syracuse, N.Y., at 2:30 a.m. on September 11.
The first suit filed in the incident names John Tomaszewski, the bus driver of Yardville, N.J., and two New Jersey-based bus companies that owned and operated the vehicle that had been traveling from Philadelphia to Toronto as defendants.
“We intend to thoroughly investigate this case and make certain that the innocent victims of this horrible tragedy receive full compensation under the law,” said attorney Shanin Specter, whose Philadelphia-based firm is handling the case.
According to police reports, there were a dozen signs and flashing yellow lights leading up to the bridge that warned vehicles of the height restrictions.
“The bus drivers of America need to be especially careful because they’re carrying people that are placing their life in the hands of the drivers,” said Specter.
The suit claims that the driver crashed into a railroad bridge because he failed to recognize that the bus’ clearance was too high for the bridge and to heed warnings and signs about the height clearance of the railroad bridge.
Among the victims of the crash were 18-year-old Deanna Armstrong of Voorhees, N.J. and Kevin Coffey, a 19-year-old student of Temple University.
It was originally believed that the driver was following a GPS device for directions and did not see warnings of the low bridge, however a statement from Coach says otherwise.
“We do not know and can’t validate if (the driver) was using his personal GPS device,” said Dale Moser, Coach USA President.
“The bus driver was clearly negligent and exactly why he did what he did is open to discovery,” Specter said.
The Megabus driver, who has been placed on indefinite leave pending the outcome of the investigation by his employer, was not able to be reached for comment.
No criminal charges have yet been filed.