Back in March 2007, a chartered bus was traveling in an HOV lane on I-75 SB. On board were 33 members of Ohio’s Bluffton University baseball team, traveling to Florida, sleeping at the time, which was 5:38 a.m.. The driver continued at highway speed up an exit ramp in Atlanta, GA, that approached an overpass. He continued past two signs warning of a stop sign ahead, past the stop sign, and into the cement wall and chain link security fence on the other side of the overpass. The bus then broke through the wall and fell 19 feet onto I-75 below.
The driver was killed, along with his wife who was on the bus, and five of the baseball players. Everyone else on board was injured, seven severely so.
Investigation Report Published
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducted an investigation into this crash and on July 8, issued its final report. The report gives three main factors as the likely causes of the crash:
- Inadequate road signs, which did not make it clear enough that the ramp was an exit and not a lane
- Driver error
- Insufficient passenger protection on board the bus
Investigators concluded that the driver must have thought the HOV exit ramp was just a continuation of the lane he was driving in. He veered slightly left into this ramp instead of continuing straight on. One has to wonder why he disregarded the stop sign warnings and apparently didn’t see that he was approaching an intersection.
In the past decade there have been nine similar accidents on this same ramp, and all involved drivers from areas other than Atlanta. The Georgia Department of Transportation had made some changes to the ramp, but not to the signage.
The Chairman of the NTSB described this incident as “an accident that didn’t have to happen”.
The families of the deceased baseball players have been lobbying for more safety features to be mandatory on motorcoaches, such as seatbelts. Currently, Senate Bill 2326 is in committee on Capital Hill.
If you have been injured in a bus accident, or if you have lost a loved one that way, you might have a valid legal case. To learn more about your legal rights and options, please call or email us for a free consultation.