The parents of two of seven north Florida children killed in a crash when a truck slammed into a car, pushing it into a stopped school bus, reportedly have sued the truck driver and the trucking company, Crete Carrier Corp.
According to the Associated Press, Amanda Lee Scott, the mother of 10-year-old Miranda Finn and 14-year-old Ashley Keen, filed the lawsuit in Union County on Wednesday, Feb. 8 against Jacksonville truck driver Alvin Wilkerson, 31, and Lincoln, Neb.-based Crete. Gainesville attorney Lance Avera, who represents Scott, told the AP that the suit does not seek a specific amount against the driver and trucking company. “We filed this lawsuit to answer how and why this accident occurred,” Avera said. In addition to Scott, the girl’s fathers, David Finn and Rodney Keen, also are plaintiffs in the suit.
The suit seeks information from Crete on Wilkerson’s employment and testing, phone use, driving history and the company’s safety ratings, insurance and vehicle inspections, according to the AP. The suit also alleges that Crete had a duty to supervise Wilkerson and should have known that “Wilkerson was unfit to safely operate a semi tractor trailer and failed to investigate, discipline, reassign of discharge” him. Wilkerson’s lawyer, Hank Coxe, and Crete did not return calls Friday, Feb. 10 from the AP seeking comment.
The two girls and five of their cousins were killed Jan. 25 when the Pontiac they were riding in was struck from behind by Wilkerson’s truck while stopped behind a school bus on State Route 121, about four miles south of Lake Butler. After impact, the truck pushed the car into a back of the school bus and the car burst into flames, killing the seven children in the car and injuring several of the passengers in the bus. The preliminary investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board showed Wilkerson was hauling bottled water from High Springs to Jacksonville and there was no evidence of drugs or alcohol in his blood.
NTSB said Wilkerson, with the exception of a short nap, had been awake 34 hours when the accident occurred, but the board refused to say whether Wilkerson had violated hours-of-service rules that prevented him from driving more than 15 hours without an eight-hour rest period.