Shared Responsibility in Shuttle Bus Accident
By Casey W. Stevens
On Friday, May 24, an airport shuttle bus collided with an 18-wheeler injuring 10 of the 16 of the passengers on board, including a 12 year old child. While most of the injuries to the passengers were minor, one was said to have suffered a broken shoulder and another had a collapsed lung. The driver of the truck appeared to be uninjured, but the driver of the bus sustained substantial injuries including several broken bones.
The tractor trailer, owned by USA Truck out of Arkansas, was apparently attempting to make a u-turn near the Air-Tran hanger at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport when the bus ran into it. The bus, owned by MCI Limos serviced the Hampton Inn and the Hilton Garden Inn and Suites, providing transportation to and from the airport to the hotels.
A local reporter for Channel 2, Aaron Diamante, began digging into the records of both MCI Limos and USA Truck immediately after the accident and discovered that USA Truck has a fleet of over 2,300 trucks and that they have been involved in 251 crashes since 2011, 92 with serious injuries and 8 that involved fatalities. His investigation also revealed 3,027 maintenance violations and 529 unsafe driving violations over the same 2 year period. The driver of the truck, Mario Cochran, was charged with improper u-turn, as well as three counts of serious injury by motor vehicle. The status of these charges is unknown.
However, MCI Limos is not blameless in this case. It was discovered that the bus driver, Yolanda Boles, was driving without the proper license. Operation of a shuttle bus requires a commercial license, which Ms. Boles did not have. A spokesman for MCI Limos told Channel 2’s John Bachman that she had a Class C license and a commercial learner’s permit, but when asked if that was the proper license, he offered no comment. Ms. Boles charges include operating commercial vehicle without proper license, failure to do pre-trip inspection, and operating with improper tires and operating unsafe vehicle after the police noted in their report that the tires on the bus were worn to the point that the steel belt was showing and there was no brake fluid. Like the truck driver, she is also facing three counts of serious injury by motor vehicle. As of last Thursday, the three felony counts of serious injury by vehicle have been dropped. Mike Toye, owner of MTI Limos and Shuttle Service, faces charges for not properly maintaining the vehicle.
The allegations against MCI Limos have ramifications beyond this accident and any lawsuits that may be forthcoming from the injured passengers. The company has a proposed four-year, $151,000 contract with the City of Atlanta. The transportation committee postponed their decision on that contract earlier this week in light of this accident. There is no doubt that the members of the City Council will be watching this investigation closely.
Contact the Law Offices of Casey W. Stevens at 770-408-6364 if you or someone you love has been injured in an accident through no fault of your own.