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Legal Rights and Responsibilities: Deaths and Serious Personal Injuries Result from Missouri School Bus / Tractor

By Joseph R. Hillebrand Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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Outside of St. Louis Missouri, a horrible bus accident was reported that involved two school buses, a semi truck, and a SUV. Tragically, two people died as a result of this bus / semi tractor / SUV accident and many others including a number of children were injured as a result of this accident. A full investigation will be conducted by State and Local authorities to determine the cause of the accident and what measures could have been taken to avoid the accident and related personal injuries.

The bus accident took place on Interstate 44. It was reported that thirty six children were transported to a local hospital (SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center) for evaluation and treatment. Other accident victims were treated at St. John’s Mercy Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Photographs and video tape of the accident scene show a school bus lifted into the air on back of the semi truck. It is clear from the photographic evidence that the accident was quite severe and traumatic for all drivers and passengers especially the school children. Accidents of this nature deal with the following issues or questions:

What are the duties and responsibilities of the school? bus driver?

What was the posted speed in the area? What were the traffic conditions?

What insurance will apply to the medical bills and injuries resulting from the accident?

Were any drivers cited for the cause of the bus accident?

What follow up medical treatment will be required by the surviving victims?

What damages will be compensable for the surviving victims?

What damages will be compensable for the family member of the unfortunate people who died as a result of the bus / semi truck / SUV accident?

Typically, the roadways are safe for our children and others in large buses and vehicles. Unfortunately, tragic accidents do happen in such a magnitude that deaths and serious injuries occur despite the size of the vehicles occupied by the drivers and passengers.

The accident happened on I-44 in Gray Summit, which is about 40 miles southwest of St. Louis. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said it was helping the Missouri State Highway Patrol respond to the wreck.

In addition, the National Transportation Safety Board says it is sending a “go team” to investigate.

One of the fatalities was in a GMC vehicle, said Missouri Highway Patrol spokesman Jeff Wilson, and the other was on the first bus. Crews were trying to pull all the vehicles apart so they could identify both fatalities. The tractor-trailer was stopped for traffic in a construction zone, Wilson said.

Renee Ridling, president-elect of the St. James Chamber of Commerce, said the town is a small, rural community about 100 miles west of St. Louis with a population of about 4,000. Ridling is a nursing facility administrator, and some of her staffers had children on the buses.

“Everybody’s pretty anxious right now, wanting to know what’s going on,” she said.

Kelsie Parton, 25, is a volunteer at the St. James Tourist Information Center.

“The news spread really, really fast,” Parton said. Once one person knew about the wreck, everybody called one another. There are also a lot of Facebook updates, she said.

She said the only local person who had come in to the center is her grandmother, who works at a pharmacy, and “they’re all kind of worried” there.

“I’ve had a lot of travelers come in and ask if everybody’s OK,” she said. Some of them heard about the crash on the radio, while others passed it, she said.

She knows one boy who was on one of the buses and has spoken to his mother. He is OK. She said his last Facebook update said he was headed to Six Flags with the band, then the last one only said, “please pray.”

CNN affiliate KTVI reported the two school buses involved in the crash were carrying high school band students from the St. James, Missouri, School District who were on their way to a Six Flags amusement park in Eureka.