Feds investigate driver in fatal Texas bus crash who had previous fatal accident

Posted
by Eric Pearson

Two passengers died and 42 more were injured when the driver of a Cardinal Coach Line bus bound for an Oklahoma casino somehow lost control of the bus on State Highway 161, near Belt Line Road in Irving, Texas. The bus apparently veered across the highway, struck concrete barriers, and toppled onto its side along the center median.

Two women died in the crash. One of them was the organizer of the bus trip, 81-year-old Sue Taylor of Hurst, who was affectionately known to other travelers as Casino Sue. Taylor had frequently organized trips for seniors, where a charter bus would take the group to a casino in Oklahoma. The other victim was 69-year-old Paula Hahn of Fort Worth.

The are reports from victims that a tire on the bus blew out, but investigators have yet to determine the cause of the crash. Bus driver Lloyd Earl Rieve was among those injured.

Driver Involved in Previous Fatal Accident in 1998

Thursday’s crash was the second fatal accident involving Rieve, the driver of the bus, according to the Dallas Morning News. A grand jury declined to indict Rieve on a charge of criminally negligent homicide in a 1998 accident.

In the previous incident, Rieve was driving a bus full of bingo players back from Oklahoma City when he struck and killed a good Samaritan 10 miles north of Thursday’s crash, reports the Dallas Morning News. Chad Rosell and a group of friends happened upon an accident along Interstate 35E in Carrollton, Texas. A car had crashed into the median and Rosell got out of his van to help. According to Rosell’s mother, Annette Kienitz, her son was in the near-empty HOV lane with the injured driver. The ambulances had yet to arrive and traffic had ground to a halt behind the accident. Then Rieve’s bus came straight up the HOV lane, Kienitz said. “He blew right through,” she said. “And that’s when he took out Chad.” A grand jury later declined to indict Rieve on a charge of criminally negligent homicide.

Claiming that Rieve failed to slow down and had a history of traffic collisions, Rosell’s parents sued the bus company, Central West of Texas. The jury found the bus company guilty of gross negligence but determined Rosell was mostly at fault for the accident. The Dallas Morning News quotes Rosell’s mother as saying, upon learning of this week’s crash, “Oh my God, I was hoping and praying he was taken out of employment.”

Bus Operator Safety Has Become a National Concern

This week’s crash involves a bus operated by Cardinal Coach Line. The company runs five buses and has seven licensed drivers. The Texas Department of Public Safety found two violations during an inspection of the bus line April 4. A driver was cited for speeding and a logbook was not properly filled out.

Cardinal had violations on another inspection July 29, 2011. One driver did not possess required medical records, and a required lamp was inoperable on one of the two vehicles that were inspected.

Earlier this month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported that it had shut down 15 passenger carriers across the United States for safety concerns. Seven were declared imminent hazards and eight were rated ‘unsatisfactory’ following safety compliance reviews.

On March 28, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wrote to the governors of each state to urge their active participation in improving bus safety through stepped-up traffic enforcement to combat dangerous driving behaviors and outreach to their residents on choosing safe operators for their next motor coach trip.

On April 4, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro contacted thousands of motor coach executives across the country to inform them of the FMCSA’s intensified safety enforcement and to seek their active support of this passenger safety initiative.

FMCSA has also reached out to the International Association of Chiefs of Police to engage its state and local members in increasing traffic enforcement of motorcoaches to strengthen safety on our roadways.

HOP and Bus Crash Lawsuits

To successfully bring a claim involving a bus crash, clients need an experienced, educated attorney on their side. They also need an attorney with the financial resources to take the case to trial. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have tried literally hundreds of cases to verdict and have settled hundreds more.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson partner Eric D. Pearson previously represented the family of Nick Stout, a teenage boy who suffered a traumatic brain injury when the bus he was taking to church camp slammed into a concrete bridge abutment in East Texas, killing four and injuring dozens. Following a three week trial, the jury in the 14th Judicial District Court of Dallas County, Texas found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded the Stout family more than $36 million.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson is AV-rated, the highest legal and ethical rating available from the leading law firm rating service. Our partners Michael Heygood, Jim Orr, and Eric Pearson are all Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Heygood and Mr. Orr are additionally Board Certified in Civil Trial Advocacy Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Our partners have been voted by their peers as “Super Lawyers” in the state of Texas for ten years in a row.*

If you have been seriously injured, or someone you know has been hurt or killed, in a bus crash, you may be entitled to compensation. To find out if you may have a case, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out our free online case evaluation form.

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Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson were selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication, for the years 2003 through 2013.