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Cause of truck, bus accident remains a mystery

The deaths of both drivers involved in a bus and truck accident that occurred on April 10, 2014, appear to have hindered efforts by the California Highway Patrol to determine the cause of the accident. After conducting a one-year long investigation of the head-on collision, the California Highway Patrol announced that it was unable to determine the cause of the accident.

A Fed Ex truck big rig southbound on I-5 when it inexplicably crossed several lanes and entered the northbound lane. The median strip had no barrier to prevent vehicles from entering the opposing traffic. After ripping through a row of oleander trees, the truck collided head-on with a bus carrying high school students. Both vehicles caught fire soon after the collision. Both drivers, five students and three adult chaperons were killed.

According to the CHP spokesperson, the driver of the Fed Ex truck was well-trained, in good health and well-rested before the accident. Toxicology tests were negative for the presence of either alcohol or drugs. Being unable to interview either driver may have been the principal reasons for the inability of CHP to determine the cause of the accident. The CHP also eliminated negligent truck maintenance as a cause.

The unsuccessful conclusion of the investigation does not mean that liability for an accident like this cannot be determined by a jury. The legal doctrine of res ipsa loquitur could, for example, be used to shift the burden of proof to another to show that it was at fault. Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in an accident in which no cause was established by an investigating body like the CHP or local police may nevertheless benefit from talking to an attorney who specializes in truck accident cases. Such a lawyer can evaluate the facts of the case and offer a helpful appraisal of the chances of succeeding in a lawsuit to recover damages.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "CHP: Mystery remains why driver crashed FedEx big rig into tour bus," Dan Weikel, May 22, 2015

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