SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A second passenger has sued the Greyhound bus company and a driver who authorities say fell asleep before the bus careened off a road in the Utah desert two years ago, killing a 13-year-old girl and injuring 12 other people.
Clemente Velazquez of Rogers, Arkansas, said in the lawsuit filed in July that he’s owed more than $75,000 in damages from medical bills and lost wages after he suffered neck and back injuries and was psychologically traumatized by the crash on New Year’s Eve 2017.
Like a previous lawsuit filed in May, the complaint alleges the bus driver was tired and sick and should have been replaced with a substitute.
Velazquez, 57, hasn’t been able to return to his work as a laborer and gardener and sees a counselor for the trauma caused by the crash, said his attorney Ken Swindle. Velazquez also avoids getting in cars because of mental anguish, Swindle said.
“This was a big hit to him. It’s changed his life fundamentally,” Swindle said.
Attorneys for Greyhound Lines Inc. and driver Charles E. Saunders, of Henderson, Nevada, have denied responsibility in court filings in both cases.
Lawyer Scott T. Evans said in his filing that Saunders had a cold the day of the crash, but Evans rejected the notion that the driver was tired and should have been replaced. Evans is representing Greyhound and Saunders in the latest case, filed in federal court in Utah.
Attorney Josh Aicklen wrote in a different filing that allegations in a lawsuit filed by Michael Edwards of Georgia don’t rise to the level of malice needed for punitive damages. Edwards says he suffered a brain injury and fractures to his face, elbow, ribs and tibia and has racked up more than $500,000 in medical expenses.
The bus was going from Green River, Utah, to Las Vegas when it left Interstate 70, went over a small ravine and hit a canyon wall while spinning 180 degrees. Some passengers were pinned in the bus and couldn’t move. The crash occurred about 300 miles (483 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City.
Swindle said he tried to settle the matter outside court with Greyhound, but the company didn’t engage him.
The attorneys representing Greyhound in the two cases didn’t immediately return emails seeking further comment.
Summer Pinzon, 13, of Azusa, California, was killed in the late-night crash.
Prosecutors declined to charge Saunders because there was no evidence of any impairment from drugs.