A preliminary report released by the California Highway Patrol states that driver error was to blame for a fatal Soledad tour bus accident on April 28, 2009, which killed five people. According to an Associated Press news report, an investigation shows that the Orion Pacific tour bus’ driver, 69-year-old John Egnew of Corona, failed to negotiate a curve on a Highway 101 overpass in Soledad, causing the bus to hit a guard rail and overturn. The bus was carrying 34 French tourists and a Canadian tour guide when the bus accident occurred.
Four of those killed were French nationals. Egnew, who was reportedly not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown through the windshield and died. The CHP report says Egnew was not driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and that his toxicology tests came back negative. Investigators have also determined that the bus had no mechanical problems and road or weather conditions were not factors in this fatal Soledad bus crash.
In this California bus accident, from an investigator’s point of view, it is very unfortunate the driver himself was among the deceased. I’m sure this made the investigation all the more complex. However, now that a determination has been made that the bus accident in Soledad was the bus driver’s fault, the Orange County-bases tour bus company could be held liable.
If you are a passenger on a bus that was involved in an accident, the Bus Company — whether a public or private carrier — owes you the “utmost duty of care” associated with being a common carrier. This “duty of utmost care” is higher than the negligence duty owed by the Bus Company to drivers of other vehicles and pedestrians. It would be in the best interest of these bus accident victims and their families to seek legal advice from experienced California bus accident attorneys. It is important in this case that these California bus crash victims know and understand their rights.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of this Soledad bus accident or any other bus accident, please remember that you should not sign any papers or talk to adjusters before you are represented by skilled California personal injury lawyers. These bus companies will have their insurance people and lawyers working to protect the company’s interests. The victims and their families definitely need someone on their side protecting their interests and fighting for their rights.