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Driver In Fatal Bus Accident Acquitted Civil Suits Proceed

On the early morning of Sept. 11, 2010, a Megabus carrying 29 people from Philadelphia to Toronto crashed into a too-low railroad bridge just outside the city of Syracuse. Four passengers on the tour bus were killed, including a Temple University honors student.

It was discovered that the bus driver had used his own personal GPS for navigational purposes after missing an exit from Interstate 81. The unplanned route led the double-decker bus to a railroad bridge that offered clearance for 10 feet, 9 inches. The top front of the 13-foot-tall bus was demolished when it smashed into the bridge.

Two large signs warning of the clearance stood on both sides of the bridge. In all, the bus driver allegedly drove past 13 signs warning that the bus would not fit under the bridge. The bus driver was charged with four counts of homicide for his role in the crash.

However, this week it was reported that the 60-year-old driver was acquitted by a judge on all four of the criminally negligent homicide charges. Had the bus driver been convicted, he would have faced up to 16 years in state prison.

The conclusion of the criminal lawsuit means that the pending civil lawsuits against the bus driver and bus company can proceed. Several civil lawsuits were filed by victims of the accident and their families.

Even though the bus driver was found not guilty in the criminal case stemming from the accident, it is certainly possible that he and the bus company could be held civilly liable. This is because the burden of proof is stricter in criminal cases than it is in civil cases.

Source: NBC 10 Philadelphia, “Driver Acquitted in Megabus Crash That Killed Temple Student,” Teresa Masterson, Feb. 28, 2012