Families say manufacturer to blame for deadly bus crash

Families say manufacturer to blame for bus crash

DAVIS, Okla. -- It is the first time families are seeing the bus their daughters were in when they were killed in a crash. 

Keith Pelton’s daughter Jaiden died in that crash. ”My daughter was sitting third seat from the back. It threw her out. She was dead, just like that," Pelton said.

In September 2014 four softball players from North Texas Central College were killed when a truck driver, Russell Staley, sideswiped the bus. He was under the influence of synthetic marijuana and charged with manslaughter.

Attorney Todd Tracy represents the families. "We want a fair shake and we want safety for families that is what this case is about. This is not about Russell Staley," Attorney Tracy said. 

The families say their daughters could have survived that crash if the bus had been manufactured correctly.

”Never in a million years did we think this would ever happen. You never think it’s going to happen to your child until it does," Christi Pelton said. "We want to help people survive.”

Three of the families are suing Champion Bus. They alleged the bus was made with cheap material and manufactured poorly.

"It's made of foam. It’s made of cardboard. It’s made of one and a half inch square tubing," Tracy said. 

On Friday, Staley killed himself. His sister contacted News 8 and said her brother was a good man and couldn’t forgive himself. He wanted the families to know he was sorry.

“He really felt that he is the one who should have lost his life, not those girls because he said those fathers didn’t get to see those girls get married, and he would just sob," Theresa Staley said. 

The families say they empathize with Staley’s family, but say the focus is on holding the bus company accountable.

Audrey Woodlee’s daughter, Katelynn, was also killed. “We live every day without our girls. We are still trying in our hearts to make it every day. So our focus right now is on them," Woodlee said. 

Champion Bus did not return our calls, but in past court briefings, denied the allegations.

The families say if they win their lawsuit, they plan on building a softball facility at the college in honor of their daughters.

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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