Widow Receives $3.1 Million Settlement from 2010 Megabus Crash That Killed Her Husband

At least six victims and families of victims in the Sept. 11, 2010, fatal crash of a double-decker Megabus have received settlements of up to $3.1 million to compensate them after the tragedy that took four lives on Onondaga Lake Parkway near Syracuse, N.Y.

The widow of one of the victims, Ashwani Mehta, received a $3.1 million settlement in 2012, while Candice Burks, another passenger in the bus, was awarded $677,000 in compensatory damages and is still battling for punitive damages, according to a July 9 story in The (Syracuse) Post-Standard.

In addition to the four passengers who died in the bus crash, 20 passengers were injured, including nine seriously, as the double-decker vehicle traveled from Philadelphia to Syracuse, according to the story.

The actual settlements for some of the other passengers have not been disclosed, including for a woman who suffered fractures “all over her body, literally from head to toe” and will not be able to return to her work as a computer programmer, according to the paper.

A male passenger, Carl Kerr, suffered a traumatic brain injury in the crash when the vehicle slammed into a bridge overpass, the story reported.

The crash occurred when the Megabus driver, John Tomaszewski, became lost along his intended route and was apparently using his personal GPS unit to figure out where to go next. The bus was headed to Toronto from Philadelphia, according to a 2010 story in The Philadelphia Daily News.

As the driver made his way in the dark, he followed the GPS unit’s instructions and tried to drive the 13-foot-tall bus through a bridge that was just under 11 feet tall, The Daily News reported. The top of the bus struck the bridge, leading to four deaths and chaos.

The discount bus company has been popular as it has been spreading its services to more than 28 cities across the Northeastern U.S., Canada and throughout the Midwest, with low fares that can be as little as $1 each way between destinations.  A subsidiary of Coach USA, Megabus began running its services in the U.S. in April of 2006 using a fleet of modern, double-decker buses that have Wi-Fi and other amenities.

On at least four previous occasions, Megabus drivers have reportedly become lost on some of their trips, heading off their intended routes and ending up in the wrong place, according to a related 2010 story in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

A New York judge acquitted Tomaszewski, the driver, of criminally negligent homicide in 2012 in connection with the crash, which injured 20 of the 28 passengers on board, the Post-Standard reported.

“Using a personal GPS was against Megabus policy that drivers only use the bus’s GPS, which takes into account bridges that are too low for the tall buses to drive under,” the paper reported based on one of the lawsuits in the case.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the crash “found that Tomaszewski drove past at least nine warning signs on the parkway, including three that had flashing amber lights and one with flashing white strobe lights,” the paper reported. “The bridge had orange reflective tape across the bottom support beam.”

This fatal Megabus crash highlighted some major problems with low-cost bus lines, including insufficient training of drivers who apparently can’t figure out where they are, where they are going and how to get to their destinations safely with their bus loads of passengers. A long-distance motor coach operator needs to know their planned route backward and forward before they ever hit the road.

In this Megabus crash, it was particularly disturbing that the lost driver was apparently using his personal GPS unit to try to figure out where to go to get back onto his route. Why is this so bad? Because like anyone else using a GPS unit, it can be very distracting if you are reading it, trying to program it or trying to decipher it while your vehicle is moving down the road. Could the driver have been so distracted as he tried to get his location using the GPS unit that he didn’t notice the low bridge that his double-decker motor coach was about to strike?

For the victims of this tragedy, and for their families, the resulting crash settlements will no doubt help them continue to heal and get on with their lives following this terrible crash.

These kinds of incidents and injuries happen every day when innocent victims are hurt in vehicle accidents through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others.

That’s where having a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award is key.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-(866) 352-4572 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

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