St. Louis, MO- The details surrounding the fatal California accident between a bus and Fed-Ex truck last week that left 10 people dead and injured over three dozen people are still unclear. But federal investigators say the driver may not have used his brakes before slamming head-on into a chartered bus carrying mostly high school students.
It will take months before an investigation is conclusive, the NTBS says, but in a press conference Saturday the agency said the driver if the Fed-Ex truck did not attempt to brake before the crash. Agency Spokesman Mark Rosekind told the Los Angeles Times the truck did not leave skid marks on the road or on the median as it crossed the highway. The bus however left 145 feet of tire marks which indicate that the driver tried to stop and veered right.
For some unknown reason, the driver of the Fed-Ex truck, Tim Evans of Sacramento, lost control and careened across the center median of Interstate 5. He slammed head-on into bus, killing himself and nine other people in a fiery blaze caused by the collision.
The deceased include truck driver 32 year-old Tim Evans; 53 year-old bus driver, Talalelei Lealao Taiai; 26 year-old Arthur Arzola, an admissions counselor at Humboldt University; 29 year-old chaperone Michael Lee Myvett Jr. and his fiancé Mattison Haywood; students Ishmael Jimenez, twins Marisol and Marisa Serrato, Denise Gomez, Adrian Castro and Jennifer Bonilla.
Witnesses have given investigators varying accounts of the accident with some reporting the truck was on fire prior to the collision. Other witnesses said the driver was making evasive maneuvers to avoid a car accident which caused the driver to lose control. The NTSB, said in the Saturday press conference, that there was no evidence the truck was on fire before the accident.
NTSB investigators tested both the bus and truck drivers to determine if either had any medication, drugs or alcohol in their systems. They will also look into other possible causes for the accident by information they can glean from the bus’s black box; the black box on the truck was completely destroyed by the fire.
Both drivers had a safe driving record.
The NTSB said they would release a preliminary report within 30 days, but it will be several months before they determine what caused this tragic accident.
Whether or not this accident could have been prevented or who is liable remains to be seen. There are those rare instances where not one person is responsible for an accident, instances in which a person is not necessarily negligent or acted carelessly. For instance, if investigators find that the truck driver in this incident suffered a medical condition; the accident was not necessarily his fault, but his and his company’s insurers might have to compensation the accident victims.
A truck accident lawyer understands the nuances of liability, and will do what it takes to assure their clients get a settlement that will cover their medical expenses and their emotional distress.