In a chain of events almost too tragic to imagine, an Austin-based charter bus full of recreational travelers was struck by an oncoming train, catapulting the bus nearly 300 feet. As a result of the collision, four bus travelers were killed and dozens of others were treated for injuries in nearby hospitals. Almost immediately, wrongful death lawsuits were filed by the surviving family members of those killed in the crash, alleging – among other things – that the parties involved were negligent and unreasonably unsafe in the moments leading up to the crash.
In a lawsuit filed on March 7, 2017 against the tour bus company and the driver individually, plaintiffs alleged that the incident began when the charter bus was inexplicably straddling train tracks located on Main Street, Biloxi, Mississippi. For reasons still unclear, the charter bus seemed unable to move for several minutes. Tragically, an oncoming passenger training carrying 52 travelers – and powered by three locomotives – slammed into the charter bus, resulting in fatalities and injuries to train and bus travelers alike. The petition further alleges that it took nearly 30 minutes for witnesses and emergency crews to remove travelers from the windows of the train and bus.
The investigation into the crash is still ongoing, however details continue to emerge each day. According to media reports, the driver of the ill-fated bus may have been relying on the assistance of a GPS device immediately prior to the collision – which may have led the driver unknowingly onto the tracks without immediate awareness that trouble may be afoot.
Interestingly, the complaint further details a series of sixteen other collisions that have occurred at the same railroad cross – one of which occurred just weeks ago involving a Pepsi truck, which was ultimately struck by an oncoming train (although no one was killed or seriously injured in that crash).
The specific acts of negligence as delineated in the complaint include allegations the bus driver failed to control the bus, failed to act as a proper lookout for danger, and failed to driver the bus as an ordinary, cautious driver would have done. The complaint also names the train company responsible for maintenance of the train involved in the collision – and alleges that the company had a duty to ensure all railroad crossings on the appointed route were safe and in proper working order.
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