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Sacramento Bus Driver Faces Charges of Vehicular Manslaughter

Home » Sacramento Bus Driver Faces Charges of Vehicular Manslaughter
August 03, 2017
Edward Smith


Sacramento Bus Driver Faces Charges of Vehicular Manslaughter

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento bus accident lawyer. Charges of vehicular manslaughter, which is a felony, have been filed against a bus driver in a wreck in 2016 along Highway 99. The accident resulted in the death of four passengers in Merced County near Atwater. The charges come at the conclusion of an investigation by the California Highway Patrol into the cause of the accident.

What Happened

The crash occurred when a tour bus with a minimum of 30 passengers on board was traveling from Mexico to the state of Washington with stops at Los Angeles, Livingston, and at Sacramento. Around 3:30 in the morning on August 2, the bus left the roadway close to Liberty Avenue between Livingston and Atwater and ran into the pole for a large traffic sign. The impact of the crash caused the pole to pass through almost the entire length of the bus, killing four of the passengers and injuring many others. Highway 99 remained closed down for about 11 hours and traffic diverted while the CHP conducted an investigation into the crash.

Accident Injuries

Six victims of the crash were airlifted to hospitals with serious injuries. A minimum of 15 others were transported by ground ambulance to nearby hospitals. According to physicians who treated the people, the injuries included head trauma, neck wounds and amputations. The remainder of the bus passengers, who either didn’t suffer any injuries or had slight injuries, were taken to the CHP office in Merced following the crash.

Charges Placed Against the Driver

The driver of the bus, Mario Vasquez of Los Angeles, age 57, reportedly had only slept for 6.5 hours the day before the accident and also suffered severe injuries in the crash. Authorities also reported that the driver had violated the laws that regulate the number of hours a commercial driver is allowed to drive. In addition to the charges for vehicular manslaughter, Vasquez faces five charges for violations of the California vehicle code, which are misdemeanors.

Previous Violations

The Southern California-based transportation company that owned the bus had been cited numerous times in the past for infractions with 23 maintenance violations since 2014. Three of those violations were for issues with the brakes on buses, and a number of them were removed from service because of serious violations. The bus that crashed was inspected in April 2016 and found to have a non-functional brake light. In February, the same bus was pulled from service after the driver was found to be without a valid driver’s license.

Crash Statistics

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, buses and big trucks saw an 8-percent increase in fatalities in 2015. The Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, signed into law in 2012, was designed to address some issues such as requiring seat belts and shoulder harnesses, reinforced windows, and improved driver training. A study conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Institute for the FMCSA points to the major reasons for a bus crash, including driver error.

Responsibility in a Bus Accident

If it can be shown that a driver was negligent and this negligence caused a bus accident, the driver may be held responsible for the financial damage caused to the bus passengers who were injured or died as a result. In addition, the company that employed the driver may also be held responsible in some cases. When injured in a bus crash, it is a good idea to contact an experienced bus accident attorney to find out what your rights are and whether it is possible to claim compensation.

Sacramento Bus Accident Lawyer & Wrongful Death Attorney

I’m Ed Smith, and I’m a Sacramento bus accident lawyer. If you have suffered an injury in a bus accident, please phone me at (916) 921-6400 for my free and friendly advice. Outside the dialing area, please call (800) 404-5400.

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I am honored that in my 35 years as an injury lawyer, I have been able to serve residents of California who have suffered traumatic injuries or lost a family member through wrongful death in obtaining fair compensation.

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