Crime & Justice

California jury rules Greyhound not to blame in deadly crash

A MCI G4500 fuels up at the Oakland, CA Greyhound station.
A MCI G4500 fuels up at the Oakland, CA Greyhound station.
Paul Sullivan via Flickr

Greyhound Bus is not at fault in a 2010 deadly crash in Fresno that killed six people, including the driver and two passengers, a jury ruled Tuesday.

The pre-dawn July 22, 2010, crash on Highway 99 killed six people, including the occupants of an overturned SUV: Sylvia Garay, 18, of Dinuba; and Vanessa Gonzalez, 19, and Stephanie Cordoba, 20, both of Fresno. Bus driver James Jewett and two bus passengers also were killed.

The jury ruled that Greyhound was not responsible in the deaths of the three young women who were in an SUV that had overturned on a highway before the bus crashed into it, the Fresno Bee reported.

Attorneys for the families of Garay and her two friends sued Greyhound for negligence, contending Jewett was speeding in the fast lane, wasn't wearing his glasses, and the bus had bad brakes.

If Jewett had been wearing his glasses and paying attention, he would have seen that several motorists had pulled over and turned on their emergency flashers in an effort to help the three young women after the SUV overturned, Fresno attorneys Stuart Chandler and Jason Helsel, who represented the families, told jurors in closing arguments Monday.

The California Highway Patrol, however, blamed the deadly crash on Garay, saying she was drunk when she overturned the SUV.

Greyhound attorney Dana Fox said that Jewett, an experienced bus driver, was well rested and wearing his glasses. The bus's brakes were found to be in good condition, Fox said. The bus company has counter-sued, saying Garay's mother shouldn't have loaned the SUV to her daughter.

"They are trying to cobble something out of nothing, and they are asking for millions," Fox told the jury.

After the Greyhound struck the overturned SUV, the bus continued on the highway more than 400 feet before going down an embankment and plowing into a eucalyptus tree, killing Jewett and passengers Epifania Solis, 60, of Madera, California, and Tomas Ponce, 79, of Winton, California.