Driver at fault for not wearing seat belt, attorney says.

A second suit filed in the fatal Huntsville school bus crash last fall says the bus plunged off an interstate overpass because the bus driver was not wearing a seat belt.

Mark McDaniel, attorney for the family of the late Crystalle McCrary, filed the lawsuit in Madison County Circuit Court Tuesday afternoon seeking unspecified damages. McDaniel’s firm represents 18 victims, all students.

Montgomery lawyer Jere Beasley filed a similar lawsuit citing a lack of seat belts last week on behalf of the late Nicole Ford, one of four students killed in the wreck. More suits are expected as lawyers, accident investigators, the bus company and others try to sort out what happened Nov. 20 on a downtown Huntsville interstate overpass.

McCrary, 17; Ford, 19; Christine Collier, 16, and Tanesha Hill, 17, were killed and more than 30 other students were injured when the bus plunged off an elevated stretch of Interstate 565 after a collision with a car. The bus and car were headed to the city school system’s Center for Technology on Drake Avenue.

Defendants in McDaniel’s lawsuit include Laidlaw Transit Inc., the bus company under contract with Huntsville city schools; its driver, Anthony Tyrone Scott; the teenage driver of the car that collided with the bus shortly before it plunged over the overpass retaining wall; and other unnamed defendants including the car maker, manufacturer of its components and others.

Tiffini Bloniarz, of corporate communications at Laidlaw headquarters in Naperville, Ill., declined comment because the case is under investigation.

Because the driver was not wearing a seat belt, the lawsuit says, he lost control and the bus plowed into the 32-inch high retaining wall.

“The front left tire of the bus hit the barrier and the bus climbed onto the barrier and drove along the top portion of the barrier for some distance before it plummeted approximately 30 feet to the ground,” the suit says. It says Laidlaw was negligent for failing to ensure the bus had properly functioning and fitting seat belts and to enforce the use of seat belts by its employee.



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