CHESTER, S.C. (AP) — The widow of the bus driver killed in a 2016 crash near Hamlet has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in South Carolina against the manufacturer of the tire investigators say caused the crash.
The Herald of Rock Hill reported Tuesday that Alisa D. Kirkpatrick filed suit against Zhongce Rubber Group in Chester last month, saying their tire failed to perform properly.
Investigators determined, “after a thorough and comprehensive review of the collision,” that the cause of the wreck was contributed to tire failure, according to the N.C. State Highway Patrol.
The bus — a 1993 MCI motor coach registered to Sandy River Baptist Church, in Chesterfield, South Carolina — was carrying the Raham Juco Academy football team from Rock Hill, South Carolina to Fayetteville on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 when the front left tire blew out on the U.S. 74 bypass just before the N.C. 177 overpass.
According to the report, the bus was in the far right eastbound lane and swerved to the left, striking the metal guardrail in the median and a concrete bridge support.
The driver, 43-year-old Brian Andre Kirkpatrick was pronounced dead at the scene, along with 21-year-Devonte Gibson, of Rock Hill, and 19-year-old Teto Hamilton of Pahokee, Flordia, troopers said.
Lt. Jeff Gordon with the N.C. Highway Patrol said that 10-year-old Darice Hicks, of Rock Hill, later died at Sandhills Regional Medical Center in Hamlet. Hicks was originally reported as being 8, Gordon said.
Troopers say that the other 42 occupants were taken to Sandhills, Scotland Memorial Hospital in Laurinburg, FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital in Rockingham and FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst.
Officials at Zhongce Rubber Group’s California office said no one could discuss the lawsuit.
Several violations were found following a post-crash inspection by the Highway Patrol’s Motor Carrier Inspection Unit, along with assistance from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:
• failure to have financial responsibility for a “for hire” passenger-carrying vehicle;
• failure to have an International Fuel Tax Agreement registration;
• failure to have the carrier name marked properly on both sides of the vehicle; and
• failure to have the proper apportioned registration plates.
The church was cited for those violations.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.