Lawsuit: Driver Operated Bus in ‘Crazed’ Manner

June 21, 2012

A lawsuit filed over the wreck of a tour bus in south-central Kentucky this month contends the driver was operating the bus in a “crazed” manner, had been consuming high-energy drinks and was driving too fast on the winding country road.

About two dozen people were injured in the June 6 crash.

The suit was filed in Hart County Circuit Court on behalf of students Maci Thomas, Christian Reynolds and Clisty Humphrey by family members against driver Timothy P. Saum of Evansville, Ind., and the bus company, Southwestern Illinois Bus Company LLC, doing business as New Image Travel, and WorldStrides International LLC.

The Daily News in Bowling Green reports the bus was chartered for an educational trip for students, teachers and parents to Washington. It was not a school trip.

The lawsuit alleges that Saum drove the commercial passenger bus from Chicago to Cub Run, about an eight-hour trip, then planned to drive eight more hours.

“This would have required Saum to drive a total of 16 hours,” the lawsuit said. “Federal regulations prohibit a driver from operating a commercial passenger bus more than 11 hours at a time.”

A person answering a phone listed in Saum’s name on Monday told The Associated Press they had no comment. A messages left with New Image wasn’t immediately returned.

WorldStrides CEO Jim Hall in Charlottesville, Va., declined to comment on the lawsuit but said the company is working to make sure the families are receiving adequate insurance coverage.

The wreck occurred just a few minutes into the trip June 6. Kentucky State Police said the next day that Saum failed to negotiate a curve on Kentucky 728, causing the bus to leave the right-hand shoulder of the road and turn on its side.

Police said the bus was carrying 20 adults, 34 children and the driver. The students were mostly sixth- to eighth-graders although some were from the high school.

The suit, filed Thursday, contends Saum consumed “numerous high energy drinks on the trip from Chicago to Cub Run.” It also alleges he drove too fast for road conditions. It characterizes his driving as “crazed.”

“Preliminary estimates have Saum speeding at upwards of 68 miles per hours on a winding, hilly country road before losing control of the bus and crashing it,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said teachers and parents kept telling Saum to slow down but he refused.

“People on board the bus and following it called 911 to report Saum’s reckless rate of speed,” the suit said.

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