The driver of church bus who was killed in a truck accident near Merced has been identified as 40-year-old John Haen of Coarsegold. According to a KTLA News report, Haen was filling his empty bus tank on the side of the highway on April 17, 2009 when he was hit by a big rig. Haen was thrown nearly 70 feet by the impact. The big rig also struck the bus and an empty California Highway Patrol car parked in front of the bus. Apparently, a CHP officer had given Haen a ride to his bus after he walked to Merced for fuel. Haen was driving 41 members of the Sierra Pines Church at Oakhurst back from a three-day mission trip in San Francisco. No one else was injured in the truck crash.
My heart goes out to everybody who knew and loved John Haen. I offer my deepest sympathies to them for his tragic loss. I also feel for the church members who witnessed this horrific truck crash. Please keep them in your prayers.
Based on this news report, it appears as if something went horribly wrong in this truck versus pedestrian crash. Not only did the truck driver not see Haen refueling his bus, but the truck driver also did not see the CHP unit parked near the bus. These details make me wonder if the driver of the big rig was distracted or not paying attention. I trust a CHP investigation will also look into whether the driver of the big rig was under the influence or may have fallen asleep at the wheel.
If this fatal truck accident was caused by the truck driver’s negligence, then both he and his employer – the trucking company – may be held liable. If this accident was caused because of a dangerous roadway condition, then Caltrans or the governmental agency responsible for maintaining that roadway could be held liable. Please remember that a claim against a California governmental agency must be filed properly within six months of an accident.
John Haen’s family would be well-advised to retain the services of experienced California truck accident lawyers, who will be able to find out exactly how and why this accident occurred and who should be held responsible for it. A skilled personal injury lawyer will remain on their side, help protect their rights and make sure they receive the justice and compensation they rightfully deserve.