“She Would Have Walked Away”: Husband Reflects on Wife’s Death in Negligent Bus Crash

It started as an average morning for David Welch. But, the typical day was interrupted by a life-changing phone call.

David’s wife, Kimberleigh, was a bus driver for the Mobile County Public School System. Shortly after making her first successful drop-off, she was involved in an accident on Interstate 65 South.

“I got a call that there had been a wreck,” David said. “On my way to downtown Mobile, I had no clue. I kept thinking, my wife is a bus driver- there shouldn’t be any problems.”

According to reports by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, a 2017 Nissan Altima struck the school bus near the I-65 off-ramp to US 45 in Prichard. The crash caused the bus Kimberleigh was operating to leave the roadway and overturn. The bus’ roof collapsed during the tip-over onto Kimberleigh, suffocating her.

When David arrived at the hospital, he was told Kimberleigh had passed away.

“Once I had left, just me and the kids in the truck, I had to pull over on the side of the road. I just told the kids, ‘I don’t know what to do.'” David recalled tearfully.

David was put in touch with Beasley Allen’s Greg Allen to try and make some sense of his wife’s tragic death.

“Nobody would tell me any information…no one had contacted me. I was clueless as to why we were in that situation,” David added.

David learned another vehicle had wrecked into Kimberleigh’s bus, causing the change of events. But he wasn’t sure who was at fault for her death.

“At the time, I didn’t know if it was his fault because he was negligent? Was he under the influence or something like that? Nobody had answers,” David added.

Beasley Allen investigated the crash and found that while the accident caused the bus to tip over, the bus’ negligent design was the direct cause of Kimberleigh’s death.

IC Bus and Navistar placed a defective, unsafe bus on the market without an adequate roof and body structure. The rollover occurred at only 12 miles per hour.

“If the bus had been constructed differently, under different safety guidelines, she would have walked away,” David said.

“The defendants created an unreasonable risk of harm by failing to use proper designs available when the bus was designed, manufactured and sold,” Beasley Allen Lead Product Liability Attorney Greg Allen said. “They continued placing at risk the lives of school children and bus drivers daily when these passengers boarded the defendants’ defective school buses.”

David credits Beasley Allen’s, specifically Greg’s thorough investigation, for helping him understand his wife’s crash and working to prevent future incidents.

“Greg treated me not only as a client but as a family, a person, and a friend and helped me walk through this step by step. At the end of all this, I had absolute confidence that Greg had overturned every stone and we knew exactly what took place.

While the settlement won’t bring back Kimberleigh, David hopes it can save someone else’s life.

“One of the things I hope that is accomplished from this is that a change is made going forward. Greg Allen and the Beasley Allen Law Firm have uncovered a problem with school buses and the way most of them are designed,” David said. “Hopefully, this information can be used to make a change.”

The case was filed in the Circuit Court of Mobile County, Alabama, case number 02-CV-2019-903280.00. According to Allen, Presiding Judge Micheal Youngpeter was instrumental in resolving the case for this deserving family. Beasley Allen attorneys Stephanie Monplaisir, Kendall Dunson and David Greene of the Greene and Phillips Law Firm represented the family in this deadly school bus crash case.

The settlement amount for this case is confidential.

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