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Driver and Three Students Injured in Santa Maria School Bus Crash

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A bus driver suffered major injuries and three students were hospitalized after a school bus accident in Santa Maria. According to a news report in the Santa Maria Times, the loose fertilizer arm of a passing farm truck crashed into the front of a school bus transporting 10 students to Righetti High School the morning of October 30, 2013. Three students, identified as Morgan Garten, 15, Julisa Gutierrez, 15, and Koby Ernst, 14, suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The 44-year-old bus driver, Yolanda Zepeda, suffered major injuries, but she is expected to survive.

Loose Truck Arm Struck Bus

Officials say Hugh Medina, the driver of the farm truck, was traveling south on Foxen Canyon Road at about 35 mph when an arm of the truck extended into the northbound lane. The truck’s arm crashed into the front of the bus causing Zepeda to lose consciousness. The bus careened as much as 1,500 feet along Orcutt-Garey Road, went over an embankment, crashed through a fence and then hit a tree. Zepeda had to be extricated from the bus. No arrests were made. The investigation is ongoing.

Given the circumstances of this crash, it is indeed fortunate that no one suffered life-threatening injuries. This could have been a lot worse. I wish the driver and the injured students the very best for a quick and complete recovery.

Fault and Liability

Based on this news report, it appears that the loose arm of the farm truck struck the school bus and caused this horrific crash. There are still several unanswered questions here. Why was the farm truck’s fertilizer arm loose? Did the arm malfunction? Was the truck being maintained properly? Did this accident occur due to operator error, negligence or inexperience? I trust officials are looking into these and other issues in order to determine precisely what occurred here and why.

If the driver of the farm truck is determined to have been negligent or at fault, then, he as well his employer can be held liable for the injuries, damages and losses caused. Since the school bus driver was on the job, she can claim workers’ compensation as well as additional compensation from the at-fault parties involved. The injured students can also seek compensation for medical expenses, hospitalization, pain and suffering and emotional distress. An experienced California personal injury lawyer will be able to advise injured victims and their families in such cases regarding their legal rights and options.

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