National Transportation Safety Board investigators say that confusing highway signs and driver error primarily caused a fatal bus accident in Atlanta, which killed seven people last year. The bus accident killed five members of the Bluffton University baseball team. They were on their way from Ohio to Florida. The five team members, driver Jerome Niemayer and his wife died on I-75 in Atlanta when the bus couldn’t stop and plunged 19 feet to the road below
Investigators also blamed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for failing to implement its 1999 recommendations to require seat belts in motor coach buses, according to a UPI news report. Officials say Niemayer was at fault to some extent because he wasn’t following the “confusing signs” and did not slow as he drove up the high occupancy vehicle lane ramp, which he thought was a through lane.
Now, federal legislation co-authored by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), would require the NTSB recommendations for seat belts and window and roof reinforcements in motor coaches. But all this comes too late for the Niemayers and members of the Bluffton University baseball team.
The highway authority in Ohio or the agency that is responsible for erecting and maintaining these highway signs should be held responsible for this bus accident. It is beyond me how someone can misunderstand a 19-foot drop for a through lane. Niemayer’s family should consider retaining an experienced and resourceful personal injury attorney to look into the possibility of a wrongful death lawsuit.
Our firm has represented several clients and prevailed in cases against California Highway Patrol where there is lack of freeway maintenance or a dangerous condition on the roadway, which the state agency is responsible for repairing and maintaining. Lack of proper signage or confusing signage can cause catastrophic accidents and this bus accident in Ohio is just a tragic illustration of that fact.