Details of the deadly October 5, 2008 charter bus crash on Lone Star Road east of Williams, California in Colusa County are emerging as the California Highway Patrol accident and criminal investigation continues. The bus was carrying 42 passengers from Sacramento to Colusa Casino Resort, located on Highway 45 three miles north of Colusa when the driver lost control and the bus flipped into the air, cartwheeled and landed in a ditch.
According to the CHP as reported by ABC News, eight people died on 10/5/08 when the bus overturned on its way to the Colusa Casino Resort including six women – Lou Her, 68; Muang Saephanh, 68; Khou Yang, 67; Meuay Saelee, 74; and Fin Saechae, 64, Ma Vang, 60 and two men Xee Vang, 85 and Daniel E. Cobb, 68. All of them are believed to be from Sacramento. Cobb was the owner of the bus.
All of the thirty-five surviving passengers were injured in the Colusa County bus crash, some of them critically. They are all believed to be from the Sacramento area and of Laotian descent. My deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased accident victims. Please keep them all, including the injured in your prayers.
What is clear is that the 52-year-old driver of the bus from Stockton, Quintin Joey Watts, was not properly licensed to drive the bus, had a felony criminal record, had spent years in prison and was paroled less than a year ago.
Watts is in fair condition in Woodland Memorial Hospital and is under arrest on suspicion of felony driving under the influence. Watts’ criminal record includes convictions for possession of drugs for sale, possession of a firearm, possession of destructive device, check fraud, credit card theft and distributing phoney telecommunication devices. No previous DUI convictions have been uncovered.
The Texas license plates the bus carried were invalid, and no federal Department of Transportation registration number could be found, according to Officer Bob Kays of the CHP’s Williams station. However, a California Public Utilities Commission spokeswomen, Susan Carothers, said the bus had a valid license and insurance coverage. Which is good news for the victims and their families. The CPUC oversees charter transportation companies. Cobb had been registered with the CPUC as a charter operator since 1974, Carothers said.
It appears that there are major issues as to where the money will come from to compensate these victims. Before it is all over, the victims may be looking to the bus company, the bus company’s insurance, whomever does maintenance on the bus and possibly the bus manufacturer. If we were representing any of the injured or families of the deceased, we would also be looking into any hazardous roadway conditions that may have contributed to the charter bus accident.
All of the injured and the families of those fatally injured have substantial rights to recover compensation for a long list of expenses and losses as well as the damage and pain it will cause to their lives. They would be well served not to talk to anyone, give any statements, provide any releases or sign any documents until they have consulted with highly skilled personal injury attorneys who have the experience and resources to handle a major catastrophe case like this.
Some types of claims that could stem from this accident may need to be properly made within six months of the accident date.
All of the best attorneys for charter bus accidents will provide free consultations for the victims and their families. Get professional legal help immediately. The best lawyers will not charge any fees or costs until the case is successfully completed. Feel free to call me for assistance. My firm would be honored to assist any of the victims and their families.
Anyone with information about the bus accident, or who may have had relatives aboard, is asked to call CHP Officer Bob Kays at 473-2821.