Lawsuit Filed Against Truck Driver In Bus Crash

A lawsuit has been filed against the Brooklyn, N.Y., man who was involved in a crash with a school bus.

On Nov. 12, emergency personnel responded to crash involving a 2006 Freightliner tractor tailer and a 2008 International school bus.

Victor Santos, 58, Brooklyn, N.Y., according to the Warsaw Police Department accident report, was driving the truck west on U.S. 30 toward East Center Street in Warsaw. Santos said a 2008 International school bus pulled out in front of him at the intersection, the report states.

Multiple witnesses told police Santos was driving erratically, allegedly almost running two vehicles off the road prior to the crash. Santos then ran a red light, hitting the school bus, the witnesses said.

According to a probable cause affidavit, when Santos was booked into the Kosciusko County Jail, a portable breath test sample was taken which indicated he had a blood alcohol content of 0.13%.

Santos is charged with four Level 5 felony counts of causing serious bodily injury while operating a vehicle and 22 Level 6 felony counts of criminal recklessness while armed with a deadly weapon.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed Monday are 16 of the students who were in the accident – members of a St. Ignatius College Prep hockey team from Chicago.

Plaintiffs also include the students’ parents as well as coaches Michael Rigitano and Ryan Haraldsen.

Defendants in the lawsuit are Santos and trucking companies N&V Trucking Express LLC, B&W Cartage Company Inc., B&W Cartage Inc. and B&W International.

The lawsuit claims Santos was an employee of the trucking companies at the time of the accident and was acting in the course and scope of his employment. He was also operating a vehicle owned and/or leased by the companies. The complaint claims the companies negligently entrusted the semi-tractor-trailer to Santos.

The complaint the plaintiffs all owed the students and others on the roadway a duty to use reasonable care in the operation of the semi-tractor-trailer to avoid causing injury or harm.

Santos and the companies breached that duty and were negligent by failing to keep and maintain a proper lookout for other vehicles on the roadway, failing to maintain control of the semi-tractor-trailer to avoid a collision, failing to apply the brakes timely to avoid a collision, disregarding a traffic control device, failing to yield the right-of-way and failing to use the same care and caution a prudent person would have used under similar circumstances, the complaint claims.

The complaint also alleges the defendants are “guilty of wilful and wonton conduct” by Santos consuming excessive amounts of alcohol knowing he was going to operate a semi-tractor-trailer, knowingly operating a semi-tractor-trailer while under the influence and knowing he was intoxicated and persisted to operating a semi-tractor-trailer.

The complaint claims due to the defendants’ conduct, the plaintiffs suffered “painful debilitating physical injuries and limitation to the plaintiffs’ normal activities.”

The complaint said through the defendants, the plaintiffs suffered personal injuries, some of which are permanent. The plaintiffs incurred and will incur medical, hospital and other expenses, as well as suffered and will suffer physical pain and other injuries and damages of a personal nature.

The plaintiffs demand judgment against the defendants for all injuries, expenses and damages pertaining to or relating to the incident, prejudgment interests, cost of the lawsuit and “for all other just and proper relief in the premises,” the complaint states.

The plaintiffs demanded trial by jury.

Santos has a pretrial conference for his criminal case on Jan. 9 in Superior Court III.

The plaintiffs are represented by attorney Joseph Miyake, of Miyake Law LLC, Highland, Ind., and Timothy Cavanagh and Michael Sorich of Cavanagh Law Group, Chicago.