News update: Nine riders in bus crash file suit against RFTA, others |

News update: Nine riders in bus crash file suit against RFTA, others

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Michael McLaughlin The Aspen Times
Picasa |

Nine people who were riding a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus that crashed in the El Jebel area last fall have filed a lawsuit against the public-transit agency and three other individuals.

The accident occurred near mile-marker 16 on Highway 82 at about 7 p.m. on Oct. 26. In all, authorities have said there were 11 passengers on the bus, which was headed downvalley from Aspen, and that 10 were Roaring Fork Valley residents.

Seven different law firms filed the suit jointly late Thursday morning.

The nine riders are listed as: Catherine Elise Anthon, Maggie Fricke, Christina G. Andrade Guzman, Karla Marie Miller, Robert L. Pollard, Pedro Rivera, Rohan Samuels, Cecily Viall and Isidro A. Zelaya. Another plaintiff, Ryan Lee Anthon, Catherine’s husband, was not riding the bus.

At the time, the Colorado State Patrol, which handled the investigation, said the bus slammed against a concrete barrier on the right shoulder of the highway after the bus driver swerved to avoid a slow-moving tractor in the right lane.

Defendants are named as: RFTA; Jaime Nunez, the bus driver; Travis Wingfield, the tractor driver; and Theodore Potter, the tractor owner.

The lawsuit alleges numerous injuries of varying degrees suffered by the nine riders. Six of the riders were ejected from the bus, according to the suit. State police previously provided information to the media indicating that six riders were ejected.

Nunez, 55, of Glenwood Springs, was not ejected, state police have said. He was the only one on the bus equipped with a safety belt, the suit says.

“Nunez either was not looking ahead or was looking but not able to see that tractor in the RFTA bus’ line of travel,” the lawsuit states. “Upon information and belief, Nunez’ eyesight was substandard on the date of the crash.”

The suit also claims that RFTA was negligent in that the transit agency “should have known that Nunez was unfit to be employed as a bus driver” based on poor eyesight.

RFTA attorney Paul Taddune said Thursday afternoon that the bus-transit agency hopes to hold mediation sessions soon with the plaintiffs’ attorneys and insurance companies representing the other defendants. Wingfield’s insurance company, State Farm, has not participated in any of the previous meetings, Taddune said.

“RFTA is very concerned about the welfare of all of the people who were injured,” Taddune said.

The plaintiffs are seeking monetary relief for damages and a jury trial, the suit adds.

For updates on the story, see Friday’s Aspen Times.

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