Tennessee residents may recall a tragic bus accident that claimed the lives of two individuals who were returning from a youth trip in 2012. The crash ended the life of a 16-year-old girl and the 45-year-old driver of the church van. The group had been on a trip to Gatlinburg and were returning to Maryville, Tennessee when the accident took place. Eleven others were injured in one of the most distressing bus accidents that has taken place on Tennessee roadways in recent years.
Investigators determined that the 23-year-old man responsible for the crash was using drugs at the time of the incident. Recently, nearly two years after the crash, the man entered a guilty plea in Sevier County Circuit Court. police assert that the man was under the influence of bath salts at the time of the crash. He claims to have no recollection of the accident.
Driving while impaired is a serious social risk. As this case painfully demonstrates, the decision to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol affects more than just the impaired driver. In this case, innocent people who were returning from a church trip lost their lives or sustained injured through no fault of their own. The course of at least two families’ lives were forever altered as a result of decisions made by one individual.
Sentencing in this case has not yet taken place, but the family members of the two people killed in this crash may find comfort in knowing that the driver will be held accountable for his actions on that day. In addition, they have the right to pursue their own legal recourse in the form of wrongful death lawsuits against the negligent driver. Wrongful death and personal injury suits are common after bus accidents in Tennessee and elsewhere.
Source: TriCities.com, “Man pleads guilty in fatal East Tenn. church bus crash“, Kevin Castle, Sep. 3, 2014