Archive for Tuesday, November 28, 2006

DUIs on record of Cat Tracker driver

November 28, 2006

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The driver of the Cat Tracker fan bus involved in a fatal accident Nov. 18 had three DUI convictions and was driving on a restricted license.

Brent Simonsson, 41, of Wamego, was driving the bus to the Kansas-Kansas State football game when Shawnee resident John Green, 27, and Salina resident Christian Orr, 34, struck the Irving Hill Road overpass in the 1700 block of Iowa Street.

Both Orr and Green were standing on the upper deck of the bus when their heads hit the bottom of overpass, according to the accident report.

Green was pronounced dead at the scene. Orr remained in critical condition Monday at Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., hospital officials said. Orr has undergone surgery to relieve swelling on his brain.

Lawrence Police submitted an investigative report on the accident Monday afternoon to Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson.

Branson said the case will be reviewed before any possible criminal charges are filed.

According to the accident report, Lawrence Police said Simonsson did not comply with restrictions on his driver's license at the time of the accident.

The Kansas Department of Revenue restricted Simonsson's driver's license after he failed a blood alcohol test in November 2003 in Riley County, court records show.

That felony DUI case later was dismissed, and Simonsson filed a suit against the Department of Revenue to overturn the license restriction.

The lawsuit alleged that the Riley County Police Department destroyed video footage of Simonsson's 2003 DUI arrest according to the department's "tape retention policy," court records show.

Court records did not indicate what restrictions the department put on his license, although it is common to restrict driving except for work-related reasons in such cases.

One dead in pre-game traffic accident

Lawrence Police Captain Steve Zarnowiec and a KSU student/fan talk about the "Cat Tracker," the vehicle involved in the fatality accident. Enlarge video

Riley County Judge Meryl D. Wilson on Feb. 9, 2005, upheld the license restriction, which took effect 10 days later.

Simonsson also has three DUI convictions. Court records show he was convicted of DUI in 1994 in Leavenworth County and in 2000 WaKeeney.

Simonsson also was convicted of DUI in 1996 in Ellis County, according to Kansas Bureau of Investigation records.

Lawrence Police have not released results of a toxicology report prepared after the Cat Tracker accident.

Simonsson's attorney, Pedro Irigonegaray, did not return calls seeking comment. The owner of the bus, Manhattan attorney and developer Robert Pottroff, also did not return a call Monday.

Comments

samsnewplace 8 years, 8 months ago

What was the weather like that day? I'm sure that will make a good follow-up story also.......

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 8 months ago

I agree that maybe some one else should have been driving but come on what the heck does this have to do with the accident?

jonas 8 years, 8 months ago

Yes, but it may cloud the judgement of this particular case. This is totally irrellevent to this incident.

kmcd028 8 years, 8 months ago

I understand the implication assumed here but can we not think a person can change? Unless the report comes back that he had been drinking this ADDS NOTHING to information about the accident...it just brings out the demons in the driver's closet for us all to gossip about.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 8 months ago

Any driver of that bus should be aware of the potential consequences to those riding on top when driving under a bridge with relatively low clearance.

trinity 8 years, 8 months ago

that's true, ottr-but it screams loud&clear about other things.

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 8 months ago

does this really change anything? I do not remember them the police or reporters saying anything about the driver under the infuence so why the story?

samsnewplace 8 years, 8 months ago

offtotheright 7:09am BRAVO!!! It doesn't....

Linda Aikins 8 years, 8 months ago

Nope Sams. Weather is a boring subject and should be avoided.

BDub 8 years, 8 months ago

It does show that this driver is irresponsible, which makes his story all the more questionable - that he didn't know there were people on top of the bus. It also might put more of the liability upon the owner of the vehicle, who failed to put someone responsible at the wheel. I don't know the entire situation - whether people paid to ride on this thing or if it was just a bunch of friends, or what. But in any case the owner and driver took on responsibilities of not being negligent or reckless with their passengers' safety. Putting somebody with 3 DUIs and a restricted license at the wheel at least raises a case for negligence.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 8 months ago

"The driver has already stated that he did not know that there were people on top of the bus and this statement has not been challenged by anyone in authority."

If the driver of this bus was unaware of the people up there, he truly wasn't competent to be driving it. And the authorities have said almost nothing about this accident, including commenting on any statements from the driver.

BDub 8 years, 8 months ago

I do think certainly the passengers injured here share the responsibility - but they shouldn't necessarily shoulder all of it.

werekoala 8 years, 8 months ago

I'd want all possible causes examined, yes. By a damn jury, the way it's supposed to be.

For us, the readers, I can't see how this reporting in any way helps us understand this horrific accident, unless the driver was drunk, which I certainly have NOT heard.

So yeah, rather than digging for what a guy did several years ago, how about you do some journalism, LJW, and find out what he was doing that day?

Oh, and how's the other guy doing? Where is the Cat Tracker right now? Have the funerals been held? What is the mood like in Manhattan regarding this issue - maybe their newspaper had a perspective in LTEs or editorials that might be valuable to us. And while we're on the subject of criminal records for poor decisions, how about the guys who got hit? On a more global scale, it might serve as a jumping point to discuss the dangers of sporting events, and how emergency services train to handle them.

I dunno - this seems a lot like a story trying to squeeze the last ounce of water from a stone, when the well is by no means dry. I'm just curious - is this motivated by laziness, or are we just trying to smear the guy?

ControlFreak 8 years, 8 months ago

cheeseburger,

A possible cause? People were standing on top of a moving bus.

I agree with poor decision making skills and I find it highly suspect that the driver did not know that eight people were on top of the bus, but still...

The people who got hurt/killed were STANDING on top of the bus. That has nothing to do with who is driving the bus.

denjack 8 years, 8 months ago

I have heard through family members in Manhattan that the driver put someone he knew on that bus in charge of not allowing people on top of the bus and he ignored that request. If that is true, that may speak to the driver not making good decisions about who to give that responsibility. Maybe that's why he lawyered up so quickly.

topflight 8 years, 8 months ago

Marion, all the driver had to do was look behind him and see no one was inside the bus with him. Only one other place they could be, ON THE ROOF. It is the drivers fault. But don't worry, if he is charged with DUI dipstick Branson will screw it up and charge him with a first DUI.

introversion 8 years, 8 months ago

Well, even if the driver was not solely responsible for the passengers riding on the top of the bus, perhaps this will draw some appropriate attention to the drunk driving that goes on in relation to the tailgating and football activities in this town...

... That is, if the driver had been drinking. I agree that people can change, but you have to admit that until the toxicology reports come back, things don't look so hot.

weedwacker 8 years, 8 months ago

Ok, people, so the guy has some past DUI's, this doesn't have anything to do with the guys that stood on top of the bus. I have driven a bus just like that one, they are all loud and it would be hard to tell if someone was standing on top of the bus. There is always music and conversation going on. The bus drivers responsibility is to drive the bus, and that is exactly what he had done, if what denjack states is true, then it sounds like he tried to make sure that no one was going on top during the drive time, a person can not be at two places at once. Here again, this is a tragic accident, but these guys were adults, not kids, and if they were told not to go on top, then if they pushed it, then it would be their fault, not the drivers. I have also driven a school bus with many kids on it, I can tell you from experience, I was never able to see everything, I know that many things happened without me knowing it, and the kids were inside with me. The noises on those buses (old and new) and amazing and it would be hard to tell the difference between walking on the back or on top, or even people banging on the side. Until we hear he was under the influence, we should not assume that the driver was impaired.

Clint Bradley 8 years, 8 months ago

did the driver hit the bridge? did the driver pull into traffic and hit another vehicle? did the driver run a red light and cause an accident?

i suppose it is the electric company's fault if some moron inserts his finger into a light socket.

lepchun 8 years, 8 months ago

It has to be balmed on someone so let's see, oh yes let's blame it on the guy who oh yes last dui in 2000, I wonder how old he was in his 20's (let's face it we all party a little in our 20's) not saying he was right for driving drunk, but geesh, we all have things hidden in our closet. But the blame has to go somewhere. and certainly not on the people who were having a good time on top of the bus. He was a driver not a cop! But this is a sue happy country.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 8 months ago

I know it's a tragedy, but...

Weren't both of the victims adults? Didn't they have enough intelligence to know it would be dangerous to stand on top of a moving bus, without having to be told first? Even if there hadn't been an overpass on the route, they could just as easily have lost their balance and fallen off.

It's agains the rules to stand while the bus is moving even if you're on the bottom, or if it's a regular transit bus. But I've seen many a person do it, anyway. They will stand up when the bus nears their stop, ready to leap off. If something happened and the driver had to stop abruptly and that standing passenger went flying down the aisle of the bus, whose fault is it? The pasenger who was standing when he shouldn't have been, in my opinion.

Buses have rules for a reason. If you want to stay as safe as possible, follow the rules. Don't assume they don't apply to you.

Perhaps, since some people just can't seem to abide by the rules, buses with seating on top should just be eliminated.

my2cents 8 years, 8 months ago

Really the only thing this article did was get you and whoever else read this out of Jury Duty, IF HE IS CHARGED WITH DUI.

Thanks to the LJWorld for bring up someone's criminal history, which taints your individual right to a fair trial. And now that you all know his past record you can't be on the jury.

The only time this type of Criminal History can be used in during sentencing, NOT DURING TRIAL.

Thank You LJWORLD.

bankboy119 8 years, 8 months ago

crazy, even if it is common sense some wonderfully liberal judge will rule that because the morons were not specifically told it is not their fault.

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 8 months ago

there are no winners in this tragedy, and I tink to bring the driver into th blame without proof just makes it more of a tragedy. Lets just stick to facts and not try to inflame the public with info. that does not have anything to do with the accident. Unless test show he was drunk or drinking at the time his past has nothing to do with this.

Joel Hood 8 years, 8 months ago

Anyone charged with 3 DUIs has problems with responsible behavior. Driving a bus - that you know will be loud and distracting - should only be done by someone who has clearly demonstrated good driving judgment. As the driver, he has ultimate authority for the safety of the passengers - the driver must KNOW that no one is on top of the bus. I'd be very surprised if he isn't charged with criminal negligence.

imagold 8 years, 8 months ago

Sorry, when someone gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, they are responsible for the lives of all their passengers, regardless of the passenger's age(s). I'd imagine everyone has wondered about the driver's condition that day. That they are asking about DUIs is no surprise. What about the blood alcohol content of the passengers? Rather worrisome that so many are willing to sweep DUIs and a restricted license under the rug.

"The Kansas Department of Revenue restricted Simonsson's driver's license after he failed a blood alcohol test in November 2003 in Riley County, court records show." He'd have been 38, not in his 20s. In 2000 he'd have been 35. Either way, plenty old enough to know better than to drink and drive. These DUIs that are practically ignored and irresponsible drivers being represented by "DUI attorneys" are not doing anyone any favors.

ControlFreak 8 years, 8 months ago

Sasquatch,

Rationality doesn't work on these forums.

People will get upset because you are suggesting that grown adults are responsible for their own behavior. The nerve!

Unfortunately, the "blame other people" game will continue for some time.

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 8 months ago

I really do not think it is anyone but the courts and victims family's business any way so other than a outcry (this forum) what is the reason for this article? Will this change the fact tht one man is dead and another impaired for life? Or the fact that everyone on that bus will be haunted for their whole lives and what about the kids on the bus? this article is just to inflame everyone and that is all.

PYT1984 8 years, 8 months ago

Hey Cheese, if you decide to ride with someone who crawls underneath the steering wheel, you deserve whatever happens.

KansasKel 8 years, 8 months ago

QUOTE: "According to the accident report, Lawrence Police said Simonsson did not comply with restrictions on his driver's license at the time of the accident."

The driver of this vehicle was not responsible for the injuried/killed victims' very poor choice to go on top of the bus while it was in motion...the victims made that decision, and I'd say they've paid quite the price for it.

However, he was responsible for his own poor choice not to comply with the restrictions on his license, and thus opened up the door to a lot of liability.

ControlFreak 8 years, 8 months ago

Imagold,

I don't think anyone is trying to "sweep DUIs and a restricted license under the rug."

I think people are pointing out that the restriction allows him to drive for work (according to the article), which he was dong.

Personally, I don't think he should have a license at all. However, since he has a license, his previous DUIs are irrelevant unless he was drinking on the job.

If it is the case that he was drinking on the job, then it is of value, not before.

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 8 months ago

but people on here are assuming that his past dui come into play here until the results are in they are not and the ljw should have waited until they had proof that he ws impaired when this happened, right now it is all just passing the blame or buck or what ever.

don_burgess 8 years, 8 months ago

"I've got 3 DUI's and I still drive THE FIRCKIN PARTY BUS!!!!" "NO ONE CAN STOP ME FROM PARTYING!!!!!" "YEEEEHAWWWW!!"

Sigmund 8 years, 8 months ago

Liability, or lack thereof, in this case will likely be determined by the Cat Trackers carrier status. Common carriers, private carriers, and independent carriers have differing standards and/or duty of care towards their passengers and cargo. The driving record of the driver who was hired or allowed to drive this vehicle is going to be relevant as to whether or not Cat Tracker's duty towards those injured was met. Cat Tracker may have tried to limit their duties and/or liability using some form of agreement, but whether or not a court will allow such limitation of their duty is going to be heavily fact driven.

The fact that ATTORNEY Pedro Irigonegaray, and ATTORNEY/OWNER Robert Pottroff (neither are shy when it comes to using the press to further their causes) did not return calls asking for comment, leads me to believe that the DUI is a very "bad fact" that they are going to have to deal with if they hope to escape liability.

Harry_Manback 8 years, 8 months ago

I think driving illegally on a restricted license when you cause an accident that kills someone (regardless of who's at fault) is relevent. He was the driver, and it was his responsibility to make sure people weren't doing illegal things in his bus (i.e. riding on top of a moving vehicle).

Why are people like this still driving? I guess it pays to be a lawyer and have money to hire good lawyers to get you out of the charges. My friend went to jail for 3 months for driving on a restricted (after not having insurance; not DUI,) but I bet this guy will do no time cause he has the money to fight it. I just hope he stops driving before he does CAUSE an accident.

lepchun 8 years, 8 months ago

just like America Quilty before proven innocent, I thought it was innocent until proven quilty........my bad

samsnewplace 8 years, 8 months ago

Article says three OUI's, 1994=12 years ago, 2000=6 years ago, 2003=3 years ago......and this is relative to the one's standing on the top of the bus and being hurt how? IF he was OUI that day, I might be interested. Joe Blow with a perfect driving record could have been driving, I don't get it. So he shouldn't have been driving, point taken, is it his fault some decided to stand up on the top of the bus? If they were minors I might agree, but these were adults who "are suppose to be able to make intelligent decisions for their lives"?

weedwacker 8 years, 8 months ago

cheeseburger:

I am no longer a bus driver, I moved on to better hours and better pay. I drove for 10 years, no kids ever were hurt in my care. No where in my post did I say that I didn't take care of the kids that were on my route, and no where in it did I say that I wasn't "Maintaining Order" as you suggested. What I was saying, was kids on buses know the rules, adults on that bus knew the rules, kids and adults all the time break the "rules". Why does this society constantly blame someone else for what they did. I received an award each year I drove for the "school" bus company, for Safety Driving, and I took Defensive Driving classes. In none of those classes did it teach me to make an individual mind the rules. Find me a person in this world that has ALWAYS followed the rules for everything in their lives, it can not be done. No way. The fact of this accident is that they WERE told (the remaining witnesses on the bus and friends that I know that have ridden on the bus have stated this also) You can be told time after time to follow the rules, it's not fair that the driver be blamed for someone not following the rules.

lepchun 8 years, 8 months ago

He had a restricted(not right or right) he can drive to and from and maybe with his that was his occupation was driving not right or right he still had it, quit blaming him, he wasn't standing on the top he didn't run in to anyone and as far as we know he wasn't drinking so STOP blaming him put the quilt where it lays

GardenMomma 8 years, 8 months ago

For all you who wonder about the responsibility of the driver: "According to the accident report, Lawrence Police said Simonsson DID NOT comply with restrictions on his driver's license at the time of the accident."

This means that had the driver been complying with the restrictions set forth due to his prior DUIs, another driver would have been driving and perhaps the accident would have been avoided. Lots of "would have beens" there I know, but the driver should not have been driving and he was and two lives and all they touch are horribly affected because of that.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 8 months ago

Exactly how did the driver CAUSE the accident, Harry? He was simply driving the bus, as was his job. There is no proof that he was under the influence, and even if he was, how does that contribute to somebody making the stupid choice to stand up on a moving bus?

It's the driver's responsibility to make sure people aren't doing illegal things, like standing on top of a moving bus? Since when? If you have your brother in the car with you driving down the street and the guy is idiot enough to stick his arm out in heavy traffic, is it your fault if he gets his arm whacked off?

What were his options? Go on top and make sure everyone was seated before he drove off? Maybe he did do that, none of the articles have said so one way or the other. Even if he did, what was there to prevent them from standing up again just as soon as he got behind the wheel and couldn't see them anymore?

And if he had seen them, and refused to drive the bus until they either complied or got off the bus, you'd have had a whole lot of angry partiers, and then the article might have read "mob attacks bus driver".

Have you ever tried to make a group of partiers, most of them ADULTS, comply with anything?

These two young men made a terrible choice that day, and they paid dearly for it. But let's not blame the bus driver for something he had no control over.

weedwacker 8 years, 8 months ago

Thanks lepchun, I did look up what a restricted was and it does say that they can drive to and from work, so if this was his job, then he was legal in what he was doing. The kids under 16 also have a restricted and they can only drive to and from work, or with a legal driver of the age of 18 or over. We do not know what his restrictions were. We don't know what all the judge said to him when he was at his hearing. Until you know for sure we can not assume anything. We need to look at the facts and assume blame where blame should be placed. It is a tragedy, everyone would like to go back to 10:00 am that morning and redo what we did that day, but the fact is we can't so now a lesson for everyone can be learned.

Sigmund 8 years, 8 months ago

Nobody is going to hold the bus driver liable, he doesn't have enough money or insurance to cover the loss. It is the OWNER/ATTORNEY who is going to be held liable and it is ironic because he made his money suing other companies when their customers got hurt! He has money, he had a duty of care to passengers, he has insurance, and he is NOT judgment proof.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 8 months ago

Probably so, cheeseburger. But this still doesn't make the accident the driver's fault.

If I suddenly stepped out in front of a moving truck and the driver hit and killed me, whose fault would it be? The driver, who would have no possible chance of avoiding the accident? Or me, for being foolish enough to step out into traffic?

mom_of_three 8 years, 8 months ago

But we do know that he was not abiding by his license restrictions as per the article.

lepchun 8 years, 8 months ago

He wasn't abiding by his license restrictions, it doesn't say he was drunk(does it), itsn't that what everyone is complaining about, it doesn't say he cause the accident, it just say's he was abiding by his license restrictions, maybe he wasn't intitled to drive during these hours or whatever it still doesn't make him the person to blame for the ADULTS uptop, he didn't cause them to get hurt, they are OLD enough to know what they are doing. Your saying two things here the guy wasn't abiding by his restircted drivers license he was at fault, so what does that make those people up top not abiding by the rules NOT quilty........please

bankboy119 8 years, 8 months ago

Actually crazy, if somebody spins it that the driver was speeding then it would be the driver's fault and he could be charged with manslaughter.

adky 8 years, 8 months ago

If this was some black dude out robbing a store with his buddy and the buddy shot and killed a cop, you would all be crying out that they should both be guilty of murder, regardless of which one pulled the trigger. If this guy was not supposed to be driving because of his restricted license, why not charge him with manslaughter? He would be breaking the law and in doing that a guy was killed. But this was a football fan, not some poor dude from the ghetto, so different rules apply???

lepchun 8 years, 8 months ago

adky, he hasn't been proven quilty he hasn't been proven anything except he was not abiding by his restricted license.

Emily Hadley 8 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps he could have pulled over? Just because you aren't in control of what people do doesn't mean you drive around with someone on your hood-- with the possible exception of self-defense against them, you stop your vehicle and don't start moving again until the person is off of it. I think that is really common sense. It also isn't illegal to be a drunk passenger.

If two high school kids are riding on top of a car, you better believe the driver is going to get the tickets or arrest. Only one person is responsible for the fact that that thing was both on the road and in motion, and that was his call.

not_dolph 8 years, 8 months ago

Posted by my2cents (anonymous) on November 28, 2006 at 10:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Really the only thing this article did was get you and whoever else read this out of Jury Duty, IF HE IS CHARGED WITH DUI.

Thanks to the LJWorld for bring up someone's criminal history, which taints your individual right to a fair trial. And now that you all know his past record you can't be on the jury.

The only time this type of Criminal History can be used in during sentencing, NOT DURING TRIAL.

Thank You LJWORLD.


Was in the Manhattan Mercury last week...sorry $.02

lepchun 8 years, 8 months ago

You know that for a fact? Don't you think the other two high school kids would get into trouble?

weedwacker 8 years, 8 months ago

emilyhadley: Have you not seen the picture of the bus? I have been up close to this bus, and it is not like he could see on top each and every minute he was driving. If a driver is letting high school kids ride on his hood, you can see that and as long as you are not totally stupid, you would know to stop. He did tell the passengers to not ride up there. Did they listen? No, it doesn't sound like they did. Your statement is stupid, you do not know what happened up to the moment the accident happened. Again, he was driving very slowly. I saw them driving in town, they were not going fast and the driver did not run them into the bridge. They (the adults) should have had better sense, and with that said, there was kids on the trip, myself as a parent when my kids are around, I stop and think about things that I am about to do, and think, would I want them to follow in my footsteps?

oldgoof 8 years, 8 months ago

Sigmund: Bingo on your 2:04 post.

Follow the money, and it will lead to the plaintiff attorney/owner. Ironic, no?

Harry_Manback 8 years, 8 months ago

crazyks,

Well, if I'm driving around with my friend (who has drugs on him that I don't know about), and we get pulled over and searched, I'm probably going to go down for possession also, no matter what I say. Drivers have been held responsible for the actions of their passengers in many cases.

I'm pretty sure it's illegal for people to ride around on top of a moving vehicle, and the driver had to know they were up there. Also, it states in the article that it was a violation of his restricted license to be doing something that he did that day. So, although he may not be liable for what happened (owner's and insurance responsibility) he shouldn't get off scott free. He knowingly broke the law several times that day, and hopefully he won't drive again for a while.


Topeka,

A restricted license usually means you can only drive to and from work, school or some other place the judge deems acceptable. They apply for those under 16, and for people who had their licenses taken away. People get them taken away all the time for DUIs, unpaid tickets, no insurance, etc. Apparently this guy had a good lawyer though, and never got his license fully taken away, despite the fact that a 3rd DUI is typically considered a felony.

oldgoof 8 years, 8 months ago

And a rimshot to not_dolph for his 3:42.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 8 months ago

quilt goes on your bed... guilt is you're held liable for a crime.

just a small note.

Jackalope 8 years, 8 months ago

If two guys rob a store and one kills the cashier during the robbery, both would be charged with 1st degree murder under the statutory murder felony rule. The murder felony rule sets forth specific felonies as inherently dangerous felonies during which the murder felony rule may apply. Driving against restrictions is not included and is not a felony. Want it changed? Talk to a legislator.

Driving against restrictions on a license cannot be used as a basis or part of a basis for civil or criminal liability for the death or injury of his passengers unless and until it is shown that the driving against restrictions was a direct or proximate cause of injury or death. Want it changed? Talk to a legislator.

Sigmund 8 years, 8 months ago

Hiring a bus driver who has multiple DUI's and who cannot legally drive, could be considered negligence on the part of the owner of the bus company. It seems to me companies and employers whose employees act in a negligent manner can be held civilly liable for their employees acts, even in Kansas. The concept is something like "negligent hiring" and/or "vicarious liability."

Linda Endicott 8 years, 8 months ago

The company might be held liable for hiring a person who had less than a perfect driving record, and a restriction on his license. However, if that fact alone was not the CAUSE of the accident, then I fail to see why the company should be held liable.

How could he have known they were up there, Harry? Could he see them from the driver's seat? I highly doubt it. I especially doubt that he could see that they were standing up.

Oh, yes, he probably violated the restriction on his license. But again, that doesn't make that the CAUSE of the accident.

Why is everyone so anxious to assign blame to someone else? These two young men made a terrible choice, and paid a horrible price.

What is so wrong with holding people accountable for their own actions?

Jersey_Girl 8 years, 8 months ago

cheeseburger - if you go to the following link: http://www.themercury.com/view/article.a... you will see that the owner of the bus made a statement that the driver was unaware of anyone riding atop the bus.

Topflight - there were 22 people on the bus; 8 were up top.

For all of you who think the driver's past is relavent, let me ask you, how many of you have gotten speeding tickets? Should you now be prevented from driving kids anywhere b/c of your driving history? The driver was driving a bus with 22 people on it, the majority of which were adults. If he is responsible for adults standing atop a moving bus, I'm not sure I want to take the responsiblity of ever driving with another person in my car. What if they fail to put their seatbelt on and someone hits us? Am I now responsible for their injuries b/c I should have refused to drive until they put it on?

Jersey_Girl 8 years, 8 months ago

The owner of the bus has stated he did not know about the driver's driving record.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 8 months ago

Actually, from what I've read of the statute, if a passenger fails to buckle up and the car is pulled over for any reason, the passenger will be fined for not wearing their seat belt. The driver is not responsible for the fine, unless the passenger is a minor.

If the passenger not wearing the seat belt results in worse injuries in an accident, however, I can just see all the lawyers lining up to take the driver to court. Doesn't sound right or fair to me, but I bet it would happen.

Jersey_Girl 8 years, 8 months ago

Just like people suing bartenders for serving or allowing someone impaired to drive. Apparently, it is the bartender's responsibility to track just how much EVERY person in the bar has to drink and then wrestle them for their keys if they believe they've had too much.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 8 months ago

Well, that's a stupid law, too. My mother always taught me that if I did something stupid, I had no one to blame for it but myself.

jessie 8 years, 8 months ago

http://www.themercury.com/view/article.asp?sectionid=News/Default/NewsArticles&id=033-2006-11-28-59641-03

A witness, assistant Manhattan fire chief who was following just behind the Cat Tracker (in his privately owned fire truck), said driver was not speeding. Also, 6 of the 8 people on top of the bus were standing.

Also noticed in same article that only 10 (out of 22) persons were riding INSIDE the bus when the accident occurred. Personally, I would think the driver would notice that more than half the passengers were not riding inside the bus.

not_dolph 8 years, 8 months ago

Good research there Jersey...would have never thought to look there ;-)

I do fail to see the connection between a speeding ticket and a DUI, though.

Jersey_Girl 8 years, 8 months ago

LOL! You liked that not_dolph? Sorry, did you want credit for that link? I wasn't trying to make a connection so much as make a comparison. A man with previous DUIs was driving a bus filled with and topped off with adults. Does his previous record really have anything to do with 8 adults being where they shouldn't have been and doing what they shouldn't have been (standing atop a moving vehicle)? If so, were there other passengers in his vehicle on the occasions when he was arrested for the DUIs? If you have previous speeding tickets (a lesser offense), should you not be allowed to drive children (smaller people with less knowledge of danger than adults)? Perhaps he only drove under the influence alone in his car. Yes, while he was only putting himself in danger in that car, he was putting others on the road at risk by driving under the influence. If you were speeding and speeding enough to be pulled over and given a ticket, then you were also putting others on the road at risk. Both speeding and driving under the influence are dangerous. We don't know to what extent he was over the legal limit when he was arrested for the DUIs. That is equally relavent as to how much one was going over the speed limit. It's all relative.

Jersey_Girl 8 years, 8 months ago

jessie - if 8 were on top the bus and 10 were inside, where were the other 4?

Katara 8 years, 8 months ago

Jersey_Girl, now stop!

Your aptitude for math is showing.

Sigmund 8 years, 8 months ago

It will be obvious to a jury in the civil case that it was reasonably foreseeable that when driving a bus under a bridge where people could be on top of the bus that they may seriously injured or killed and that the driver should have either 1)insured there are no people on top of the bus, or 2)warn the passengers on top of the bus to sit down; prior to proceeding under a bridge.

That the driver was negligent in his duty to warn or duty to take precaution to prevent this foreseeable event will create a vicarious liability for the owner and when a simple check of the drivers license would have revealed multiple DUI's and inability to even legally drive this bus, the owner will not be able to claim that he he did his best to hire a qualified driver and he was negligent in his duty to hire a qualified driver. The owner will be found liable for all foreseeable damages.

The BEST the owner can hope for is that any negligence of the passengers MIGHT be used to reduce their damages.

Jersey_Girl 8 years, 8 months ago

Sigmund - why on earth would the driver assume the passengers on top of the bus were standing up while he was driving? Even if he knew they were up there, which he is claiming he did not. Why would he assume that they were unable to see the bridge for themselves? Any halfway intelligent civil lawyer would point this out.

Sigmund 8 years, 8 months ago

Because it is reasonably foreseeable that they might be standing up and he had a duty to his passengers to either make sure they are seated or warn them of the danger, especially if they were not facing forward, of the danger.

The owner in this case is a plaintiffs attorney who sues people all the time who are negligent, had a duty, and people are injured from a reasonably foreseeable hazard.

As this owner has lots of attachable property some other plaintiffs attorney will take this case against another plaintiffs attorney, There is no professional courtesy among plaintiffs bar!

Sigmund 8 years, 8 months ago

Heck, I think most 1Ls could win this case if they were well versed in civil procedure and could talk to a jury without slobering.

badger 8 years, 8 months ago

Jersey_Girl:

It's less about "The driver should have noticed the people on top of his bus," and more about "The fact that the driver was working on a restricted license affects how legal liability will be assigned here."

In some places, if you're driving on a restricted license or without insurance and you get in an accident, even if it was completely the other person's fault you will be held legally liable (or at the very least the other person's insurance can refuse to cover damages to you because you were driving illegally at the time). There's a difference here between real fault, which is whether or not the driver did something that directly caused the accident and whether or not the driver should have known about the people on the roof, and legal fault, which will mostly govern who gets hit with charges and liabilities and lawsuits.

The driver should not have been driving. The company should not have put him in the driver's seat. When they chose not to do a thorough background check on his driving record, they took the risk that he was lying to them about it. Turns out he was, and that's going to have penalties for them - more likely civil ones than criminal ones. This will probably cost them a lot of money, because the fact that he was driving illegally means that insurance companies will probably be backing away as fast as they're legally allowed.

I utterly agree that the actual fault of the accident is with the people who thought it would be a great idea to ride under an overpass on top of a bus. But you and Sigmund are arguing cross purposes, actual fault vs. legal liability.

Jersey_Girl 8 years, 8 months ago

The driver has stated that he was not aware that the people were on top of the bus. I do not see how it is reasonablely forseeable that they might be standing up or that he had a duty to them to either make sure they were seated or warn them of the danger. And how was he to know what direction they were facing? I am deeply saddened by this accident and find it tremendously horrible, but I fail to see how any of this was the driver's fault. If people have always ridden on the top deck and the bus has never been stopped or ticketed for that, then it is understandable that no one would have really concidered that it might be illegal. And once again, in case you missed it the second time, the driver has stated he did not know that the people were atop the bus!

Jersey_Girl 8 years, 8 months ago

Badger - It is my understanding that on his restricted license, he was allowed to drive for work purposes. If he was hired to drive the bus, then he was working, therefore, he was legally allowed to be driving.

Jersey_Girl 8 years, 8 months ago

And as for the hiring of the driver, I believe he is a friend of the bus owner and that is why he was driving. I don't think they did an extensive search for a driver. It does not sound like a big, formal affair. It sounds like someone owned a great bus with an open deck on top that he decided to paint purple and use it to chauffer KSU fan around to games. The fans riding did not reserve the bus specifically for personal purposes. It was, until last Saturday, a big, purple KSU fan transporter. That's it.

And I think that all you lawyers and lawyer-wanna-bes that think that it's perfectly fine to sue the pants off the owner and the driver are precisely why lawyers have such a lousy reputation as a profession.

badger 8 years, 8 months ago

I think it's going to depend on how they define 'work purposes'. I'm going on a friend who had a 'work-restricted' license a few years ago; he was allowed to drive to and from work, but not to drive for work, like as a pizza delivery person and so on. I don't know enough about this person's restrictions, because the article just has these two statements:

"According to the accident report, Lawrence Police said Simonsson did not comply with restrictions on his driver's license at the time of the accident."

and

"Court records did not indicate what restrictions the department put on his license, although it is common to restrict driving except for work-related reasons in such cases."

General reading comprehension would suggest, if the cops say he wasn't in accordance with the restrictions on his license, that he wasn't allowed to drive professionally. If you have additional information that contradicts that, do feel free to put it out there.

I'm not a wanna-be lawyer, I'm just trying to explain that someone is likely to get sued, because lawsuits seem to be part of the 21st-century grieving process. And in this case, just based on what I know from friends who have made similar stupid mistakes, if he was driving outside of what was allowed on his restricted license, actual fault goes out the window in favor of where people can point the liability fingers. It won't matter whether or not he knew, it won't matter whether or not his three-year-old DUI got thrown out or not. It will just matter that he's the guy wearing no pants when the music stops, and the company that chose to employ him will have to deal with those consequences.

Would I like it if 'Sue someone' stopped being part of the Shiny New Eight-Step Grieving Process? Yeah. I just don't think it'll happen any time soon.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 8 months ago

How do you know the driver didn't warn the passengers not to sit on top of the bus? How do you know the driver didn't warn passengers of the dangers of doing so? The article didn't say anything about it.

Jersey_Girl 8 years, 8 months ago

badger - everything you say is true. I'm just so damned tired of everyone blaming their mistakes and screw-ups on someone else. If there didn't seem to be such a large focus on the driver rather than the people on top of the bus (including the ones who didn't hit the overpass), I wouldn't be so frustrated. But everybody, including/especially the media seems determined to make the driver the scapegoat for this tragedy and I'd just like to see some people taking responsibility for their own actions. Why isn't the focus on the other 6 people on top of the bus who didn't tell the two men to sit down? Why is all on the driver, who had no way of know what was going on atop the bus?

Sigmund 8 years, 8 months ago

If in fact the driver did warn the men and the other uninjured passengers verify that then I would agree with both of you. But I would expect that if Pedro's or the police investigation indicated that the was the case they would have come out by now. We will see!

not_dolph 8 years, 8 months ago

Jersey - I really don't think that the comparison between speeding tix and DUI's is a very good one.

Your compassion to the families continues to be noted, but in this day and age of social accountability, things like DUI's play a huge role in the outcomes of job interviews, court proceedings, and so on. 20 years ago might be different when it was socially acceptable to drink and drive...it was still against the law - and the laws were more lax, but certainly not enforced to the extent that it is today.

Was the driver impaired when the accident occurred? Dont' know - will know soon enough. Was the driver in violation of his restrictions - it appears so, and that is an important fact.

I still disagree with you (and all the other posters) that claim the driver has no responsibility for the passengers. Especially in the sense that, if he was hired - (that still seems to be a question???) he has a responsibility to ensure the safety of his passengers. There is a difference in driving your kids to soccer practice, and chauferring "a group" around town, state, etc.

I also think it is extremely odd that if the bus owner and driver are "good friends" as the various stories indicate, that he would not be aware of the DUI status of his friend. Especially given the fact that he is an attorney and probably provided advice or counsel to - HIS FRIEND. You would have to be an awfully distant friend to not know that your buddy was hauled in THREE TIMES for gettin' too juiced up!

jessie 8 years, 8 months ago

Jerseygirl -- Not sure where they were, back porch of the bus maybe? Here is what the same Mercury article said:

...The report also indicates that 10 people were seated in the vehicle and that the remainder of the passengers were in "any position on or outside the vehicle."

Jersey_Girl 8 years, 8 months ago

not_dolph - I still stick with my comparison, even if you don't think it is a good one. We don't know to what extend he was over the legal limit. I'm not sure what the legal limit is in Kansas, but I'm going to go with .08 since that seems to be the usual. Let's say he went out to dinner with friends, had two glasses of wine with dinner (and I know most of us have done that a time or two). They hang out, eat a nice, big meal and head out after two hours. Three blocks from the restaurant, he has a tail light out and gets pulled over. The officer smells alcohol on his breathe. He blows a .09. Barely over the limit, but enough to get arrested. Next time, he doesn't drink with dinner, but has an Irish coffee after dinner. He leaves and is pulled over for doing a rolling stop through a stop sign. Again, he blows a .09. Etc., etc. My point being (you thought it was never coming, didn't you?) is that it is possible that he may have been pulled over for any number of minor traffic infractions and ended up with a DUI arrest, even though he was barely over the legal limit. With speeding, THAT is what gets you pulled over, not some other traffic violation. When you're driving on I-70 and doing 10 over the speed limit, maybe not such a big deal. Drive 10 miles over the speed limit through a school zone or down Mass street, then all of a sudden, you're a much greater risk. And there is a comparison; with enough speeding tickets or extreme enough speeding tickets, you can get your license yanked, too.

not_dolph 8 years, 8 months ago

Ridiculous, and I am not going to argue with your hypothetical example.

Jersey_Girl 8 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps that's because you realize that there is a correlation.

Jersey_Girl 8 years, 8 months ago

Why, because you do have a history of getting speeding tickets?

not_dolph 8 years, 8 months ago

You lost your credibility several posts ago.

Jersey_Girl 8 years, 8 months ago

That's always your response when you run out of arguments.

not_dolph 8 years, 8 months ago

Posted by Jersey_Girl (anonymous) on November 29, 2006 at 9:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

That's always your response when you run out of arguments.


I challenge you to find any post where I have ever said that to anyone. Only you Jersey_Girl. If this is about the "last word" then you get to win...cause you make no sense and seem to have become "the expert" on this line of stories. Good luck with that!

Dixie Jones 8 years, 8 months ago

call the newspapers call the tv stations i for once have to agree with offtotheright......OMG im losing my mind...someone help me ..... the driver yes was responsible for the riders but how can he watch the road and see whats going on ON TOP of the bus..... anyway you call it its a bad deal

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