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Prosecutors claim fatigue caused fatal tour bus crash

Operators of group transportation vehicles have a responsibility to passengers to drive safely. Poor judgment, inattention or fatigue on the part of the driver can result in a multiple-vehicle accident that seriously injures or kills dozens of people. Family members who experience the loss of a loved one due to the negligence of a bus driver have the right to seek compensation for pain and suffering in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Readers in Hartford may have heard that the trial of a 41-year-old bus driver is underway in a state neighboring Connecticut. The male driver is charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide after a tragic tour bus accident that left 15 people dead.

On Mar. 12, 2011, the tour bus driver was proceeding south along Interstate 95 at daybreak with a group of passengers who were returning from a trip to the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. The bus crashed, striking a guard rail, toppling over and hitting a signpost that rip-opened the top of the bus before it came to a stop.

Thirteen people died at the crash site. Two more died later at the hospitals. Fifteen others were injured, with some suffering severe injuries. One man had his ear torn off, and another man lost both arms while attempting to protect his head. Other passengers experienced various bone fractures.

The prosecutor claims driver fatigue was the cause of the accident, while the driver claims that a tractor-trailer cut him off, causing him to swerve. However, investigators could find no sign that such a thing had occurred. Passengers on the bus have stated that there was no tractor-trailer. The bus was reportedly traveling at speeds up to 78 mph in a 50-mph zone.

The National Transportation Safety Board had made an earlier finding that the cause of the accident was most likely a fatigued driver, and the board also said the bus company likely was not providing a proper level of oversight. The board stopped short of concluding that the driver fell asleep.

Sources: CBS Connecticut, "Opening Arguments In Crash Of Bus From Connecticut Casino To NYC," Colleen Long, Sept. 27, 2012

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