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Archive for Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Driver in bus accident not licensed

Cat Tracker operator did not have permit to drive commercial vehicles

November 29, 2006

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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

Because of a string of DUI convictions that could have reached felony status, the driver of the Cat Tracker bus was allowed to drive only vehicles with a breathalyzer attached to the ignition.

And Kansas Department of Revenue officials confirmed Tuesday that driver Brent Simonsson did not have a commercial license to drive a bus or any other large vehicle.

"If you're driving a commercial vehicle, you're supposed to be licensed to drive it," said Marcy Ralston, bureau chief of driver control in the Division of Motor Vehicles at the Department of Revenue.

Simonsson was driving the Cat Tracker fan bus Nov. 18 on the way to the Kansas-Kansas State football game when two passengers standing on the roof of the bus struck their heads on an overpass.

One of the victims, Shawnee resident John Green, 27, died when his head struck the Irving Hill Road overpass in the 1700 block of Iowa Street.

The other victim, Christian Orr, 34, of Salina, was listed in critical condition Tuesday at Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., hospital officials said.

The restrictions on Simonsson's license took effect after he was arrested in November 2003 in Riley County for failing a blood alcohol test, according to court records.

He had three previous convictions for DUI, state records show.

Ralston said the restriction limited Simonsson to driving vehicles with a breathalyzer attached to the ignition, called an "ignition interlock device."

The device requires the driver to pass a blood alcohol test - typically registering a blood alcohol content less than .02 or .04 - before they can start the car.

The restriction on Simonsson's license began in 2006, Ralston said, and will last until February 2007.

A Lawrence Police report from the accident shows that Simonsson was not in compliance with a license restriction at the time he was driving the Cat Tracker.

However, state law allows for a person with an ignition interlock restriction to operate an employer's vehicle without the device during normal business activities.

It is unclear if Simonsson had been hired to drive the Cat Tracker bus Nov. 18.

When contacted Tuesday, Simonsson's attorney, Pedro Irigonegaray, wouldn't comment except to say that there were still issues to be analyzed.

"I don't want to make any comments because there are a lot of exceptions to the rules," Irigonegaray said.

Ralston confirmed that Simonsson did not have a commercial license while driving the bus, which had the capacity to seat 71 people and which held 21 people at the time of the accident.

According to Kansas law, a commercial license is required for anyone driving a vehicle carrying more than 15 passengers.

Manhattan attorney Robert Pottroff, who owns the Cat Tracker bus, did not return phone calls seeking comment made to his office this week.

Pottroff told the Manhattan Mercury last week that Simonsson was a longtime friend of his, but he was not aware of any problems with his driving record.

Comments

cavtrooper 8 years ago

Hmmmmm. I smell a lawsuit. Not that it would have mattered WHO was driving the bus at the time... But in today's blame happy world, somebody has to be "held accountable". Never mind that riding on top of that bus while it was moving in normal traffic might not have been the brightest idea. Or maybe keeping a weather eye on where the bus was going so one might avoid being struck by overhanging objects. I'll stop before this evolves in to a rant about personnel responsiblity.... or accepting the consequences of one's actions. Those two items seem to come up missing here in Larry-ville from time to time.

geekin_topekan 8 years ago

It was an unfortunate incident and a very preventable one all the way around.But why is the media so hellbent on blaming the driver?It is real convenient for the OWNER I am sure he appreciates the smokescreen but,come on!!Fine the driver the mandatory $1000 and shut up already. The owner should be equally liable for not checking the driver's credentials or,worse,knowing his status and allowing him to drive anyway. Worse,in that scenario,that the owner had no regard for his customer's well being and in that he intends to build and maintain student-targeted apartments close to campus here.One would have to wonder what corners he will cut in there safety features and who will get the blame when something goes horribly wrong then?

Nikki May 8 years ago

I agree, I don't think it would have mattered WHO was driving. This would not have changed if a card in his pocket said he could drive this bus. BUT, I'm sure he's going to get sued for wrongful death.

Baille 8 years ago

The master is generally liable for the wrongs of the servant. If anyone gets sued it will be the driver AND the owner because the plaintiff will want the insurance company covering the bus to pay for any losses. That is what insurance is for after all. However, speaking hypothetically, if a jury finds the decedent 50% at fault or more for his or her own death, the plaintiff bringing the wrongful death suit would recover nothing in Kansas. The same holds true for other types of negligence cases.

If the few facts known to us prove to be true, this could discourage anyone from bringing a suit in this case.

TheGoldenBoy 8 years ago

Regardless of whether or not the driver had a valid license to drive, the incident is a tragedy. My concious tells me that the accident would have probably happened regardless of who was driving. There is no indication that alcohol was a factor. Filing a lawsuit isn't going to change what happened. An accident is an accident and its all a part of life! My condolences to both the victims and survivors.

aquakej 8 years ago

Who cares about the driver? He didn't get into a wreck, and he wasn't responsible for people standing up on top of the bus.

samsnewplace 8 years ago

aquakej I agree totally!! who cares? not me!

prioress 8 years ago

Who cares about the driver?

The simple fact the driver had no CDL is a serious issue if this goes to court.

ControlFreak 8 years ago

...but doesn't change the fact that two adults chose to stand on a moving bus.

PeteJayhawk 8 years ago

More than two adults were standing on top of that bus; two adults chose not to duck.

Nonsense 8 years ago

It looks like Douglas County is not the only one that has trouble with DUI's. After the 2nd DUI this guy should have been a felon. Why didn't the prosecutors catch those? Something is wrong with the system.

compmd 8 years ago

Prioress, you are absolutely right. Not having a CDL is going to be an important factor in this mess. Makes me wonder how many folks who don't want to point any blame at the driver have CDLs. I also wonder how the auto insurance company is going to deal with this.

mom_of_three 8 years ago

It seems there is plenty of blame to pass around. The driver shouldn't have been driving (a commercial licensed driver may have been more responsible for his passengers), the owner (who should have checked on his driver) and the two injured passengers (on top of a moving bus).
I have heard from several different sources that there was alcohol on the bus, but don't know who was consuming. We will wait to hear if it contributed to the accident.

Linda Endicott 8 years ago

While it definitely wasn't the brightest thing for the driver to do (after all, he knew about the restrictions on his license), it still doesn't make what happened HIS fault.

Not that this particularly means anything in the sue-happy U.S.

I wish they would clarify things for me...he hasn't had a DUI since Nov. 2003, and at one point the article says that this is when the restrictions started. Later on, it says the restriction took effect in 2006, and will be in effect until 2007.

Huh?

How can you be convicted of DUI in 2003, but the restrictions on your license don't go into effect until 2006??

And they're not sure he was HIRED to drive the bus that day? Well, then why was he behind the wheel? I would assume that the owner knew he was driving it that day. Nobody reported a stolen bus, did they?

It was the responsibility of the OWNER to make sure the man had the proper driver's license, with no restrictions. Not that it looks good that the man didn't reveal the information, but...

IT STILL DOESN'T MEAN HE WAS AT FAULT FOR THE ACCIDENT.

Oh, I know...Litigation being the monster that it is, this thing could drag through some court or other for years. But it still doesn't change the fact that two young men made a serious error in judgement.

Maybe all these buses should be like those rides at Worlds of Fun...all of the seats on top could have locking restraints that the driver would engage before taking off, so that any passengers on top wouldn't be able to stand while the bus was in motion.

I know, I know...even locking restraints can be overcome with a little ingenuity. But if a rider did that, and it could be proven that the restraints had been engaged, then it would be more obvious who was at fault, wouldn't it?

I wish everyone would just stop trying to blame other people when they do something foolish.

Scott Kaiser 8 years ago

I feel for the victims families.... However, the owner of the bus has a responsibility to his passengers by making sure that the driver is licensed and no problems with their record. The driver has a responsibility to their passengers to make sure they are adhereing to the rules/law concerning transporting. The victims have a responsibility to make sure they are not violating the rules/law. It seems to me that no one was being responsible which led to this tragic occurance, My best guess is that the driver will be fined, do jail time, and he and the owner of the bus will have the bejesus sued out of them. Score another $$$victory for the lawyers. Such a sad situation.

leeinsfo 8 years ago

Violation of a statute, rule, or ordinance is a factor in proving a negligence case, but it is by no means the only one. Is the driver's record newsworthy? You bet! Props to the best newspaper in Kansas for printing the truth.

Bob Pottroff used to be city prosecutor in Manhattan. When he was in that position, he wouldn't cut anybody any slack. Big piles of snow in every available off-street parking space? That didn't matter to "Law-'n'-Order" Bob who refused to dismiss a ticket I got for parking in the street without a permit. It has been at least 20 years ago, but I still remember.

Now, Pottroff must explain why he apparently failed to make any investigation whatsoever into the driving history of the person he entrusted with the lives of passengers on the Cat Tracker. He told the Manhattan Mercury that he didn't know anything about Simonsson's driving record. Sorry, Bob, but -- like my excuse about the parking violation -- your excuse is just not good enough.

A reasonable person who allows another to operate his commercial vehicle asks the driver to provide a copy of his driving record BEFORE allowing that individual behind the wheel. Check with any delivery service, trucking company, or taxi service and they'll tell you the same thing. Pottroff is an attorney and a former prosecutor who dealt extensively with Kansas traffic laws for many years. He should have known better.

This was a horrible, preventable tragedy that was likely the fault of more than one individual. I'm sorry for the victims and their families, but insofar as Bob Pottroff is concerned, well, you get what you give.

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years ago

but I still do not see anything that says or suggest that he was imaired on this day while driving this bus. Bad on the owner who should have checked on this guys licence, as a lawyer he sure did not cover his but very well.

jafs 8 years ago

The issue is not whether the driver was drunk at the time of the accident, but whether he was legally entitled to be driving that vehicle at all.

badger 8 years ago

Yeah, I don't think the accident was the driver's fault, but if you're engaged in breaking the law by driving illegally when an accident happens, whether it's your fault or not, seriously screwy things can occur with liability and the legal stuff.

Only two things I'd really be able to say for sure:

  1. This remains a tragedy and my sympathies go out to those looking to put some sort of meaning or explanation to the loss of their loved ones.

  2. This is probably an even bigger legal mess than it looks like, and I imagine it will end up in court for a good long while, and perhaps (even though the driver doesn't appear to have been impaired or even have caused the accident) lead to some reform of the DUI laws.

sourpuss 8 years ago

I'm tired of people saying this wasn't the driver's fault. IT WAS. You get a chauffeur's or commercial license because you need to learn different skills and be certified responsible for your passengers. When you drive a bus or other large vehicle, you need to learn about air brakes, clearance issues, passenger safety, etc. It is the driver's responsibility to make sure all passengers in the vehicle are secure. Any less is negligence. As well, commercial drivers are used to considering clearance when approaching an overpass. All overpasses have height measurements on them and you must know the height of your vehicle. Commercial drivers sometimes need to take alternate routes to avoid danger.

Yes, it is a tragedy, but an avoidable one. This is not a random "accident." This is why people get special training and certification. I feel so sorry for the families involved in this, it is really terrible, especially on what should have been a fun day. Perhaps if the driver had been properly trained this would have still happened, but, actually, I doubt it. My condolences to the families and I think the driver should be prosecuted.

westernksgirl 8 years ago

My guess, is that as an attorney, MR. Portoff "knew" his "long time friend" had a history of DUI's . .I mean, what attorney doesn't get those calls from "friends" when they're in trouble? What Mr. Portoff could have done, is purposely not asked about his driving record so his "defense" could be "I had no actual knowledge" (i.e. "Senators, I have no independent recollection of those events" kinda thing.) What I'd be willing to bet, though, is that people who rode on the bus had to sign waivers of some sort. And, the fact that the driver did not have a license to drive that sort of vehicle, does not in any way, negate the culpability of the "victims" who CHOSE to use the bus in the manner it was not intended. Now, not to say that I don't feel for these people, their families, etc. But, I agree with some of the previous posters that there is a time when you have to take responsibility for your own actions.

topflight 8 years ago

Pottroff, typical attorney. Yeah, i believe you did not know he had a license. Bull crap, you lying sack. Tell that to the family. I am telling you all right now. Watch the Douglas County District Attorney's offic screw this up royally. I am calling it right now.

Jersey_Girl 8 years ago

biggunz - a little respect for the victims and their families would be nice.

crazyks - "Pottroff told the Manhattan Mercury last week that Simonsson was a longtime friend of his, but he was not aware of any problems with his driving record." I don't know how long the Cat Tracker has been in exsistance, but I imagine it has always been an informal party bus. Several the people who were on the bus at the time of the accident said that they didn't know the victims. This wasn't a motor coach reserved by a group of friends. It was a fan bus that I imagine people show up, pay some amount to ride to and from the games and off they go. I used to have some friends that had purchased an old school bus that they retrofitted to be similar to an RV and we used to all hop on and go places on it. It never occurred to me to inquire whether or not the owner had a CDL.

hilary 8 years ago

so....it's going to ice up tonight, kids. Snow and rain mix. brrrrr!

Jersey_Girl 8 years ago

Oh, and crazyks - I think the restriction came after he was arrested for yet another DUI, which was thrown out but the judge still decided to restrict his license.

lawrence_citizen 8 years ago

The driver is responsible for the actions of the passengers. If he had a CDL to operate larger vehicles, he would have been properly trained to know the vehicle height limits and either taken a different route, or not allow passengers on the top.

Jersey_Girl 8 years ago

"Riley County resident Doug Messer, who was driving a vehicle behind the Cat Tracker when the accident occurred, said he remembered seeing that two people were sitting down. 'And I remember the rest were standing up,' he said. 'I'm not sure why most of them didn't get hurt.'

"Messer, assistant director of Riley County Emergency Management, was off duty and driving his privately owned 1971 fire truck to the Kansas-Kansas State football game that day. He said he had met the Cat Tracker bus in Lawrence and was traveling to a parking spot in the Iowa Street Area, as the vehicles had done on two previous occasions." - The Manhattan Mercury

If Messer is the assistant director of Emergency Management, why was he not aware that it is illegal to ride/stand atop of the bus and if he saw the people standing, why didn't he do something about it? Where's his liability?

badger 8 years ago

Jersey_Girl,

I understand that you're frustrated with the blame game and finger-pointing, as you stated in the other thread. But really, is finding more people to drag in and blame really the best response to that?

coemgen 8 years ago

Why would Messer be liable? He wasn't in the bus, he was driving behind it. He isn't affiliated with the Cat Tracker and is only connected because they were going to park their vehicles by each other to show support for their team. Also, he has no jurisdiction in Lawrence since he's with Riley County, not Douglas. The driver's restriction didn't start until 2006 because he challenged the order in court, which delayed the suspension and restriction until the court ruled to uphold the penalty. That was reported when the DUI issue came up originally in The Mercury on Thanksgiving.

Jersey_Girl 8 years ago

I'm not trying to find more people to blame. My point was that a man who is the assistant director of Riley County Emergency Management met up with the bus in Lawrence and was following it. As assistant director of a county's emergency management firm/team/whatever, he would be more aware of the dangers of and laws against riding and standing on the top of the bus. He had full view of the people up there. He could have told the people to get down before the bus started up. Yet everybody's focus is on the driver, who has stated he was unaware that the people were even up there. No one could have foreseen what happened. Not the driver, not Messer. I don't know how long the Cat Tracker has been around, but it sounds like it's been a least a few years. I imagine all the goings-on that were happening were commonplace for such rides on the Cat Tracker. This ride just happened to end in tragedy and the driver just happened to be driving the bus on the wrong trip. Now he has massive legal problems along with the knowledge that he was driving the bus when one, possibly two men died. I think he has more than enough problems right now without the media and the public blaming him. Hindsight is 20/20. I bet he wishes now that he'd stayed in bed that day.

Sigmund 8 years ago

In a negligence case, plaintiff must establish a duty, breach of the duty, damages, and a causal connection between the duty breached and the damages. The existence of a duty is a question of law, while whether a duty has been breached is a question of fact and as a general rule, in the absence of a "special relationship" there is NO duty.

HOWEVER "special relationships" include parent and child, master and servant, possessor of land or chattels and licensee, one in charge of a person having dangerous propensities (drunk football fans?), COMMON CARRIER AND PASSENGERS (ie. Cat Tracker and people standing on top of their bus going under a bridge), innkeeper and guest, possessor of land and invitee, and one who takes custody of another so as to deprive the latter of normal protection.

There is a possibility that the injured's own negligence MAY partially offset or even eliminate Cat Tracker's liability. Degree of fault allocated to each party will be a matter for the trier of fact, most likely a jury.

Don't like the law, contact your legislator. Given the fact they many are lawyers who make a living suing people and get campaign contributions from trial lawyers who make their living in exactly this manner, GOOD LUCK!

Harry_Manback 8 years ago

I don't think the media is trying to "blame" anyone like someone said. Its just reporting all the facts of the story, and like it or not, this is relevant. All the media did was put the info. out there. You chose to disseminate it in whatever way you chose, but I don't think it was casting blame on anyone, that was your perception.

I think EVERYONE who contributed to these men's deaths that day should be held accountable. In the end, they did chose to stand up on a moving bus, but all parties who contributed by negligence or otherwise breaking the law, like this driver, should be held accountable as well.

mikeyj 8 years ago

If I'm not mistaken, Pottroff is the same guy that bought out Yello Sub and the Crossing on campus to put in some crazy "mixed-use commercial development."

This whole bus shindig makes me feel even better about bringing his business into town...

Linda Endicott 8 years ago

Civil suits, yes...but the proof needed to win in a civil suit is much less than in a trial. I don't know that there will be any criminal charges for the accident itself.

Exactly when, in this country, did we start making everyone and everything else responsible for our own actions, instead of being responsible ourselves?

No, it isn't good that the man didn't have a CDL license, and that he had restrictions on his license. And I'm sure there will be charges against him for that.

But, if those two people hadn't decided to stand up, no accident would have occurred at all.

I'm sure this same bus has taken this same route many times, and nothing bad happened.

Once he started driving, how was he supposed to know there were people standing up? Clairvoyance? Was he supposed to stop the van every two blocks to make sure?

Even then, all it took was two seconds for someone to stand up once the bus started moving again.

How do you stop people from being foolish?

amazed 8 years ago

You all need to find something to do with your time. Seriously.

Baille 8 years ago

"Given the fact they many are lawyers who make a living suing people and get campaign contributions from trial lawyers who make their living in exactly this manner, GOOD LUCK!"

The laws do not favor the decedent in this case or the plaintiff in any civil case based on negligence. All the legislator/attorneys that I know represent insurance companies.

compmd 8 years ago

biggunz said: "driver is to blame for driving when he shouldn't have been but not to blame for heads getting smacked. wouldn't have mattered who was driving..."

False. The driver acted with negligence and disregard for the safety of his passengers and the general public by operating a vehicle he knowingly was not licensed to operate (DL restrictions, lack of a CDL). The owner (by not verifying DL records) acted negligently by not verifying that the driver of his vehicle was properly licensed or permitted to drive.

Either the driver, the owner (Potroff if he privately owns the vehicle, or his LLC, it isn't clear) or both are going to pay for this. The insurance companies are going to scream to high heaven about the liability of the driver and the owner and try to absolve themselves of any payment.

For those who say that liability rests with those who got hurt, remember that there are no laws regulating stupidity.

Linda Endicott 8 years ago

Maybe there should be...at least where it concerns families being able to sue others for damages or wrongful death...not that I've read that either family is planning to do so, but we all know the option is there.

No REASONABLE person, under the same circumstances, would have even thought that someone would be foolish enough to stand up on the top of a bus when they were approaching an overpass.

People aren't mind readers. That's why they make TV shows about it.

Baille 8 years ago

"The driver acted with negligence and disregard for the safety of his passengers and the general public by operating a vehicle he knowingly was not licensed to operate (DL restrictions, lack of a CDL)."

How would a valid license change the outcome?

"The owner (by not verifying DL records) acted negligently by not verifying that the driver of his vehicle was properly licensed or permitted to drive."

How would hiring a different driver have changed the outcome?

"The insurance companies are going to scream to high heaven about the liability of the driver and the owner and try to absolve themselves of any payment."

Generally speaking the insurance company covering the bus would have to pay if the driver's negligence caused or contributed more than 50% to the outcome. The insurance company will need to blame the decedents. If the decdent is found to be 50% or more at fault for his/her death than the decdent's estate will recover nothing.

Godot 8 years ago

Harry ManBack has a point about everyone on the bus having some liability. It would be surreal if the families of the injured and the dead also brought suit against the other passengers who were up there on top of the bus for not having pulled them out of the way or warned them or something.

I wonder what insurance company covered that bus. My guess is the company did not know how the bus was being used. If that is the case, Mr. Potroff could have even more worries.

Sigmund 8 years ago

How would hiring a different driver have changed the outcome? Are you kidding?

Most people have the opinion that a driver on a restricted license with multiple DUI's, driving a "party bus" he is not licensed to drive, is negligence on the part of the owner, at the very least! Some might think it was so grossly negligent as to be criminal.

A more responsible driver would have insured no one was on top of the bus while it was moving. If this driver was so irresponsible with his own driving privileges and put the public at risk multiple times by driving drunk, and then disregards his court order restrictions, it is not so hard to believe he was also similar lack of judgment in this case. That lack of judgment has caused one death already depriving a pregnant wife and their unborn child a father.

Give me a freeking break!

Sigmund 8 years ago

Godot, the passengers have no duty to one another. That is NOT the case with the owner (duty to hire responsible, safe, qualified, properly trained and licensed employees) nor driver (duty to operate the bus safely).

It is reasonably foreseeable that operating a "party bus" while passengers were riding on top of the vehicle could result in serious injury. The duty of the owner and driver to their passengers is well established at common law. There is no duty imposed upon passengers to protect or help fellow passengers.

Terry Jacobsen 8 years ago

Not to break the chain here, but that bus doesn't look like it could hold 71 people. So was it's capacity 17 ??

Godot 8 years ago

Sigmund, even if there is no duty on the part of passengers to protect fellow passengers, is there a law that prevents the families from suing under that argument, anyway? Or for saying the others went up top first, thereby enticing the other two to join them? Who knows? I hate to go there, but if I can imagine it, surely a trial lawyer can.....

Sigmund 8 years ago

Negligent enticement? Not that I know of, maybe in California or Massachusetts?

There is a concept of "attractive nuisance" but I think it generally applies to children being injured by a hazard on a property like a trampoline or pool even though the land owner did not intend or want the children to use because of the property's lack of fences, gates, or some other barrier to entry. Maybe that is what you are thinking of?

Baille 8 years ago

"A more responsible driver would have insured no one was on top of the bus while it was moving. If this driver was so irresponsible with his own driving privileges and put the public at risk multiple times by driving drunk, and then disregards his court order restrictions, it is not so hard to believe he was also similar lack of judgment in this case."

Pure speculation - and forbidden propensity evidence. Just because the driver may have been negligent on another occassion does not go to show that he was negligent on this occassion.

You all are getting worked up based on a few reported "facts" and a lot of speculation about what may or may not have happened. While it is interesting to discuss how unrelated acts of negligence not causally contributing to the tragedy may or may not come to play in litigation that is assumed to follow, such discussions are merely academic.

But yeah Sigmund that is the standard - you want to hold the owner responsible either in part or in whole for the tragedy based on negligent hiring of the driver then there are certain things you have to prove. What are those elements and how do you establish each one? You want a break, earn it.

If you want to hold the driver responsible either in whole or in part and you want to use the lack of a driver's license to do establish his liability then you have to establish how that lack of a license is relevant. One basic question you have to answer is whether the lack of a license caused or contributed to the accident. I don't think you can do that. Can you?

Jersey_Girl 8 years ago

Sigmund - are YOU kidding? This is exactly how the fans and the Cat Tracker have always traveled to games. There are always fans up top. We don't know if this was the first or the hundredth time this man drove the bus. We, or at least I, don't know if this was the usual route they took into Lawrence or was a new route. I just feel compassion for both the families of the victims and for the driver. I've done my share of stupid things that look even more moronic the more closely they were examined. Obviously this man knows he screwed up; note how quickly he retained a lawyer. Having the world crucify him, especially without all the facts really doesn't make anything better. Perhaps we could all wait until all the facts are in before we sentance him to hell.

Jersey_Girl 8 years ago

Baille - what is the culpability difference between the driver being hired (paid) to drive the bus and him either volunteering or being asked as a friend to do so? Surely that plays into things.

Linda Endicott 8 years ago

If the man hadn't insisted on standing up, he'd still be alive.

Legalities aside, I really fail to see how this is the fault of the driver.

Assuming that his past DUIs, or his restricted license, or his lack of a CDL license in any way contributed to this accident is...well...an assumption.

It could still have happened, even if it was a totally different driver, and he/she had the proper license and training.

Because the man stood up. Isn't this just as important a factor?

Alison Roberts 8 years ago

They are just looking for someone else to blame for the stupidity of the guy who stood up.

sad, but true.

compmd 8 years ago

Baille,

The requirements for a CDL involve significant training. A commercial driver must have knowledge of his vehicle and the laws in the state he operates that vehicle since he is responsible for the safety of the vehicle and its cargo/passengers. You could say that a responsible, licensed driver would know better than to permit people to ride on top of a bus. Of course, this is speculation.

Also, the driver's history is relevant. Contrary to your earlier statement, his prior negligence does show that he was negligent in this situation. Under Kansas law, a CDL holder with two DUI convictions has their commercial privileges suspended indefinitely. I am not intimately familiar with the Kansas statutes regarding CDL regulation and can't say if DUI convictions on a noncommercial license would prevent him from obtaining a CDL, however, they very well could. If this is the case, Simonsson should never have sat in the driver's seat of that bus. Ergo, we have a demonstrated pattern of negligence.

When the lawsuits start flying, either the driver or the owner are going to be held liable. Lots of folks are going to say otherwise. Lots of folks also have no knowledge of the legal system outside of CSI. :)

Scott Kaiser 8 years ago

One thing is for sure, this matter will go before at least one jury and maybe more. With all of the disagreements I have read here, it makes me wonder how the spin in court will persuade those juries.... And as stated before in a previous posting, there is no law against stupidity. If there was, I, along with most of the rest of you would be doing serious time. We all have done stupid things. Fortunately it hasn't cost us our lives.

compmd 8 years ago

Well said, DaddyTopCat. Well said.

compmd 8 years ago

I totally forgot about the famous Willis crash in Wisconsin. A man who obtained CDL through bribery in Illinois (thus not having the knowledge required to safely and responsibly operate a commercial vehicle) allowed an unsafe truck on the road. The left taillight/mudflap assembly fell off the truck into the path of the vehicle behind the truck, puncturing its gas tank and setting the car ablaze. Six people were killed. When asked in court, "It's a fact that you didn't possess enough sufficient experience, knowledge and skills to pass the road test, the written test and the hazardous materials test?" The driver asserted his fifth amendment rights. His negligence and irresponsibility put the public in danger. In a civil suit against the driver by the family of the victims, the driver's insurance company settled for $100 million. Interesting, eh?

fitted_shirt 8 years ago

it's those gosh darn dolts that got up on that wicked party bus from hell that are at fault here. the good lord came and rained his wrath on top of their evil, drunken heads. and doesn't anyone else care that the nice man driving the bus is from wamego? i mean, he's probably drunk on life for gosh darn sakes, what with living out in the land of oz. heckfire, he's not to blame. it's those bad men who jumped up there. they're the spawn of the satan, those wicked men. i bet they beat their grandmothers and practice witchcraft. clearly the good lord has exacted his revenge. oh, and, by the way, the south will rise again!

fitted_shirt 8 years ago

oh and i forgot, long live atlantis! ufo's are real! my pets talk to me!

jafs 8 years ago

Wow!

Interesting thread - if the owner and driver are held responsible for the accidents, then something seems dreadfully wrong with our legal system to me.

Of course, they should be held accountable for their actions. I would think fines would be in order, and perhaps the driver should lose his license.

But why should they be held accountable for the actions of the passengers, who were adults? Are American adults so incapable of taking responsibility for their own actions?

By the way, if passengers routinely ride on top of those buses, they are violating the rules, which have been clearly stated, and are putting themselves at risk.

Scott Kaiser 8 years ago

Nine out of ten voices in my head say that the owner and driver will be broke for a LONG time to come....

compmd 8 years ago

"But why should they be held accountable for the actions of the passengers, who were adults? "

Because the driver (who knows what his passengers are doing) is the only person with a brake pedal, and can say, "we're not going anywhere until you cut your crap." The owner or his delegate (again, who know what the passengers are doing) is the only one who can say, "stop that crap, get off my bus."

SAMFLUTCH123 6 years, 3 months ago

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