BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) – A federal judge urged Greyhound to settle with a passenger who was injured when the bus she was taking made a U-turn on a dim highway at 3 a.m., right in the path of an oncoming truck.
U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein described the events leading up to the crash without attribution, noting that the Greyhound driver has pleaded guilty to a traffic citation for an unsafe lane change and that Greyhound determined its driver was at fault. Police did not cite the truck driver.
The Sept. 8, 2009, late-night bus from New York City to Norfolk, Va., got off to a rocky start, according to the court. Just before leaving the terminal in Manhattan, driver Danette Chapman told passengers they could expect delays since it was her first time driving the route.
Chapman recruited a front-row passenger to read her directions on the road. As she drove along an unlit, two-lane portion of Route 50 in Maryland, Chapman missed her exit and pulled over to the shoulder.
Then, she swerved across the two westbound lanes of traffic onto a small turnaround connecting the eastbound and westbound lanes.
An oncoming flatbed truck tried to avoid the bus by switching lanes and pulling into the median, but its trailer swung out and made contact.
George Farrow, a passenger injured in the crash, sued Greyhound, Chapman and truck driver Darnell Marshall in 2010.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein dismissed claims against Marshall, saying that the truck driver could not have avoided crashing into the bus. In fact, Marshall’s actions probably made the accident less serious than it might have been, according to the four-page decision.
“When the bus made a sudden U-turn into his lane, he swerved to his left onto the grass median in an attempt to avert a collision,” Weinstein wrote. “His reasonable actions likely reduced the impact of the resulting collision.”
If the remaining parties do not reach a settlement, a trial over the ill-fated bus ride will park in federal court on Sept. 26.