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Five of the Worst Bus Crashes in U.S. History

I focus on achieving favorable results with dedication & hard-work.- Griffin O'Hanlon

Attorney at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers

Five of the Worst Bus Crashes in U.S. History

In recent years we have seen many deadly bus crashes in Virginia and other parts of the United States. They have raised questions about driver drowsiness and standards in the industry. However, there are many different causes. Here are five of the worst bus crashes.

Church Bus Crash in Carrollton, Kentucky

One of the worst bus crashes to occur in recent U.S. history was not caused by a bus driver error but a drunk wrong-way driver.

On May 14, 1988, a wrong-way driver slammed into a church bus in rural Carrollton, Kentucky. The bus caught fire, incinerating many of the passengers. In all, 27 people on the bus lost their lives. Temperatures rose to 1,500 degrees within 90 seconds.

Many of those who lost their lives were sleeping after returning from a day at King's Island amusement park.

The driver of a pickup truck had been driving drunk in the wrong direction after downing numerous beers and vodka earlier in the night. He survived the crash.

An investigation by Kentucky State Police later found that none of the passengers suffered serious injuries in the collision. Tragically, the impact of the crash caused the front door of the bus to jam shut and passengers could not escape.

The bus's unprotected fuel tank then ruptured causing a fierce fire that quickly filled the bus. Passengers could not break the windows and had to exit a rear emergency exit door, which had been blocked by coolers.

School Bus Crash in Yuba City, California

A school bus crash on May 21, 1976, in California remains the deadliest bus crash in U.S. history.

A bus overturned on a Bay Area freeway off-ramp when its brakes failed. The crash claimed 29 lives, most of them high school students.

A choir from the Yuba City High School was on board the bus. It plunged more than 22 feet down a steep slope, flattening the bus.

Texas Nursing Home Bus Crash During a Hurricane

On Sept. 23, 2005, a bus transporting nursing home residents away from the Gulf Coast and Hurricane Rita caught fire and exploded while it was stuck on a congested highway south of Dallas, killing 23 people.

The fire was traced to insufficient lubrication of a rear axle, which overheated and caused a fire in the bus’s wheel well. It rapidly filled the ageing bus with flames and heavy smoke. Four years later an $80 million wrongful death case against the bus company was concluded with the families of the deceased, reported the Houston Chronicle.

Bronx Bus Crash in New York

In 2011, a tour bus overturned at high speed and was ripped apart by a metal sign stanchion, killing 15 people and injuring 19. In a criminal case, the prosecution argued the driver was suffering from fatigue. However, he was acquitted of manslaughter charges.

Casino Charter Bus Crash in New Orleans

On May 19, 1999, a bus heading from New Orleans to a casino in Mississippi ran off the highway on Mother’s Day, veered across a busy highway and hit an embankment. The crash killed 22 people and injured 24. Lawsuits were brought against the charter bus company.

Bus crashes are rarer than those involving cars but when they do happen, they can be very serious in nature. My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives in these terrible incidents that were highly preventable. If you have been hurt in a bus crash or lost a loved one, call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at (757) 455-0077.

Griff O'Hanlon


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John Cooper

John Cooper is a veteran of personal injury law practice in Virginia. A native Virginian, he was raised in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. He has more than 20 years of experience handling personal injury cases and recently handled the largest auto accident settlement in 2010, according to VA Lawyers Weekly. The award provided $3.5 million to a child whose young father died when the vehicle he was a passenger in was rear-ended by a careless truck driver.

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Jim Hurley

Jim Hurley has been practicing law throughout Virginia for more than two-and-a-half decades. During his career, he has tried more than 100 jury trials — a staggering number — and handled hundreds more that were settled out of court. He is guided by the principle that the client is in charge of his or her case and should be kept fully aware of the litigation process. Jim has been awarded an AV Rating by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating given, for his practice of law. He was named in Virginia Super Lawyers in 2014, 2015, 2016.

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Bill O’mara

Bill O’Mara started his legal career in 2008, moving back to his home town of Chesapeake, VA. He has practiced in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury and other litigation. He has gained extensive court room and trial experience, including contested trials before judges and juries across Hampton Roads. In 2014, Mr. O’Mara joined Injury Lawyers as an associate attorney. He became a partner in 2017.

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