After 5 weeks of testimony, a Fresno jury ruled 10 to 2 that the Greyhound driver was not negligent in a 2010 crash that killed 6 people, including the driver himself, 2 passengers on the Greyhound bus, and 3 women who were in an overturned SUV.
At approximately 2 AM, July 22, 2010, the SUV containing Sylvia Garay, Vanessa Gonzalez and Stephanie Cordoba, overturned while entering onto Highway 99. Minutes later, as several motorists who had pulled over, turning on their emergency flashers, were attempting to remove the 3 women from the vehicle, the Greyhound bus driven by James Jewett slammed into the overturned vehicle. The bus then went into the ditch, hitting a tree, and killing the driver and two passengers.
The families of the three women sued Greyhound, claiming that the driver of the bus was speeding and that the brakes of the bus were not properly maintained on the day of the crash.
An investigation by the California Highway Patrol determined that the 18 year old Garay was responsible for the crash; that she was under the influence of alcohol when her vehicle turned over. Eyewitnesses however, claimed that Gonzalez, who had not been drinking that day, was behind the wheel.
KGPE CBS 47 spoke to defense lawyer and legal analyst Charles Magill about the case. He noted that the jury seemed to rely heavily on the findings of the CHP. He also highlighted that the CHP was doing the investigation while being sued by Greyhound, on allegations that they were slow to arrive at the scene of the overturned vehicle. On this potential conflict of interests, Charles Magill said, “I think it put pressure on the law enforcement to be less than objective.”
It is currently unknown whether the families will appeal the jury’s verdict at this time.