A charter bus carrying members of a  baseball team from Bluffton University, a Mennonite college in Ohio, crashed onto I-75 from an overpass at Northside Drive about 5:30 AM Friday morning, killing six people and closing the southbound lanes of the interstate for 5 hours. A witness who was driving alongside the bus said it exited on a ramp at about 60 MPHThe bus hit the bridge’s 2-foot-high retaining wall and crashed through a 10-foot-high fence atop the wall and plunged back to I-75 below. 

The unusual design of the HOV lane left exit is attracting a lot of attention in the local media.  I have driven by that exit and others like it many times and wondered when it would produce a tragedy.  While the state folks are quoted in the media insisting that everything complied with federal design standards, the signage for that counterintuitive exit seems questionable.

I have two children close to the age of these college students.  It is difficult to contemplate the enormity of the loss these parents face.  They will be able to lean on their faith, but it still must be enormously painful.  I am reminded of a case we handled several years ago involving the crash of a college cheerleader van, and a crash involving a Taylor University van last year. I have often recommended to clients who have lost young adult children Lament for a Son, a book by a theology professor Nicholas Wolterstorff whose own son died in a mountain climbing accident at age 21.

Interstate charter buses are governed by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.  The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating, so it is likely any violations will be uncovered.  The Georgia State Tort Claims Act allows for negligent design claims against the DOT if road design failed to comply with standards when built.  But that’s a subject for another day.

The Shigley Law Firm  represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a "SuperLawyer" in Atlanta Magazine and one of the "Legal Elite" in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks.