Eight children were injured – one critically – in a 15-passenger van crash in Queens. The students were being transported to school illegally because the bus driver did not have the required license, according to an article in the New York Daily News.
Nine-year-old Rebecca Frazier suffered severe head injuries and underwent surgery after the crash while seven other children suffered minor injuries, the newspaper reported. The van’s driver, 60-year-old Gene Boyd, was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child, the article said.
New York State prohibits the use of 15 passenger vans to transport school children. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has repeatedly issued alerts about the dangers of these vans, which are still used by some schools, universities and church groups to transport larger groups of people. Click here for a complete report by the NHTSA outlining the danger of these vans. Also on this site is streaming video showing crash test results. We would be surprised if anyone gets into one of these death traps after watching these videos.
The owner of the private bus company says the children were riding in the 15 passenger van only because the minibus he usually operates broke down. He says the 2001 Dodge Ram van was his “backup.” The accident happened when a bus traveling in the opposite direction slammed the back of the van sending it into a spin. The van was reportedly left with a boulder-size dent. The newspaper interviewed some of the parents, who said they paid $175 a month for the bus service because they believed it would be safer than public transportation. Others said these private buses are the only choice for working parents whose children are not eligible for the yellow school buses.
The bus company owner’s assertion that he used the Dodge van as a backup just doesn’t make sense. If a van is illegal to use to transport school children and if you know it’s dangerous, why would you even use it in the first place? As a personal injury firm that represents victims of 15 passenger van crashes, we would hope no one rides in them. We’ve seen the damages first-hand. It’s still legal for church groups, colleges and social groups to use them. Rental car agencies still rent them out to groups of travelers who have no idea how dangerous these vans are.
In this case, the bus company owner could very well be in trouble for:
a. Employing a person without a valid license to transport school children b. Using a dangerous vehicle prohibited by the State to transport the children
We pray for the speedy recovery of the little girl who was injured in this crash. We also hope her family would hire an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in 15-passenger van crashes. They need someone on their side who will stand up for their rights.