On Friday evening over the Labor Day weekend 2012, a 16-year-old boy from Queens boarded a bus with 65 friends to go to a sweet 16 party. The double-decker bus had just crossed over the George Washington Bridge to New Jersey. It was 6:30 pm. As the bus exited the upper level to enter I-95 the boy opened a top hatch on the bus and stuck his head out. He struck his head on the underside of the Fletcher Avenue overpass and sustained extreme head trauma. The boy was pronounced dead after being rushed to the Hackensack University Medical Center.
There were no other physical injuries reported as a result of the accident, but many of the other teens on board the bus were reported to have suffered severe emotional trauma. There were two adults on board the bus at the time. One was the driver and the other was a security guard.
The security guard stated that he had warned the teens not to play with the roof hatch. He said that he warned them to leave the hatch alone three of four times. He then went downstairs to the driver to inform him it was getting too hot on the upper level of the bus. Everybody was dancing on board and then suddenly there was screaming. The next evening hundreds of students and teachers gathered for a vigil to mourn the loss.
An accident like this illustrates the need for proper precautions on buses. The bus company and the driver have a legal obligation to insure that the vehicle is safe for the intended passage and that the potential behavior of those on board complies with company and safety regulations. In this case it may later be revealed that the hatch should have been locked or the passengers required to wear seatbelts. The facts of the case will likely present themselves in any potential future litigation. One thing is certain: bus companies and operators have a responsibility to their passengers, and if that duty of care is breached a lawsuit may be brought.
Sometimes, after an event like this you need counseling. Sometimes you need legal advice. Getting professional legal help can be vital in cases like this.