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FedEx truck hits bus, leaving 10 dead in California

Written by Steve Gursten Posted April 11th, 2014

Fed Ex truck crosses median and causes the deadly semi-truck/bus accident


As a safety advocate, and as an attorney who speaks at legal seminars and writes about truck safety, this latest tragedy is both mind-numbing and shocking.  Details are still emerging on the horrible Northern California truck accident involving FedEx and a bus carrying students – that left 10 dead.

I will write more about it in the future, including the lessons for attorneys who litigate such cases. But the tragedy serves as a somber reminder as to why I and my colleagues at the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable fight so hard to improve trucking safety, and why we donate a percentage of our attorney fees from helping the victims and families of such terrible tragedies every year.

The message remains the same: Only through extensive legal discovery that uncovers every single safety violation will companies be held accountable, and take the actions necessary to prevent such tragedies from happening in the future.  It isn’t through regulators.  It isn’t through federal agencies.  It is through lawyers and victims using the civil justice system to effect positive change that saves lives.

In the latest tragedy, a FedEx truck sideswiped another car traveling in the same direction, crossed a median and slammed head-on into an oncoming tour bus carrying high school seniors, leaving 10 people dead.

The motorcoach was taking high school seniors from various Los Angeles-area schools to visit Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. The collision occurred in Orland, which is approximately 100 miles north of Sacramento.

The collision instantly killed both drivers. The vehicles both went up into flames immediately, and when the fire finally stopped burning, five students and three chaperones were left dead, according to Lt. Bruce Carpenter of the California Highway Patrol.

In addition to the fatalities, 34 others were rushed to local hospitals to get medical treatment for their injuries. Some passengers were severely injured and had to be air lifted to medical facilities.

Complicating the effort to confirm who was in which bus was the fact that the students came from multiple schools and districts, according to published reports. Officials narrowed the list to the following schools: Chatsworth Charter, Middle College, San Fernando, Dorsey, John C. Fremont, City of Angels School, Robert F. Kennedy, Manual Arts, Banning, Carson and the Diego Rivera Learning Complex, as reported in the Los Angeles Times.

The crash is under investigation, and presumably will be for a long period of time.

This crash was devastating. Both the big-rig and the passenger bus burned to ashes. The question everyone is asking at this point is, “Why?”

Why did this truck accident happen? That’s clear at this point. But the message this terrible tragedy sends is also clear: That trucking safety needs to remain a top priority on everybody’s agenda. This includes trucking companies, company management, federal regulators, truck drivers. It also includes having experienced attorneys who understand these crashes and unique federal laws and regulations, so that proper investigation can be done.

We will continue to update this story as more details become available. In the meantime, my thoughts are with the victims of this truck accident.

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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