The family of a high school student who was paralyzed in a bus accident last February was disappointed to learn this week that the driver of the bus pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in connection to the crash. Despite being arraigned on charges of negligent operation of a motor vehicle, the 67-year-old driver was released without bail.
Worcester residents may remember hearing about the horrific crash, which happened over the winter as a busload of students and chaperones was returning from a visit to Harvard University. The coach bus was traveling on Soldiers Field Road in Boston when it struck a low overpass, injuring 35 of the passengers. A handful of people were seriously injured, including a 17-year-old boy who suffered a spinal cord injury and remains paralyzed from the chest down.
The owner of the Philadelphia-based bus company said shortly after the crash that the driver may have been looking at a GPS device just before the bus slammed into the bridge. Massachusetts State Police said that the bus should not have been on the road, but that the driver apparently didn’t see warning signs about the low clearance.
The driver’s failure to acknowledge such negligence has left the paralyzed teen’s family baffled and frustrated. A statement issued by their attorneys after the arraignment said that the not-guilty plea may hinder their efforts to file a claim for damages in civil court. Although a donation fund has been established to help cover the teen’s already high treatment and rehabilitation costs, a personal injury settlement offers the best hope of covering all of the expenses, including those the teen is expected to incur long into the future.
Source: phillyBurbs.com, “Driver in Boston bus crash that hurt 35 Bucks students, chaperones pleads not guilty,” Christian Menno, June 5, 2013; Boston Globe, “One still critical after bus accident in Boston,” Travis Andersen, Derek J. Anderson and Jeremy C. Fox, Feb. 3, 2013