Our clients, Taurino Bocanegra and Irma Patricio, lost their 19-year-old daughter on July 3, 2008 in a horrific wrongful death bus accident just outside Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Irma and Yani were passengers on a bus owned and operated by a U.S. company that transported passengers to locations within and outside the U.S. Irma and Yani purchased roundtrip tickets from Houston, Texas to Matehuala, Mexico-they were on a three-day trip for what turned out to be Yani’s last visit with her aunt. The bus driver arrived in Matehuala after already driving for approximately six hours and needed to drive another twelve hours to reach Houston. The bus driver fell asleep and lost control of the bus. As the bus flipped, Irma struggled frantically to hold onto her daughter, but could only watch as Yani was thrown from her seat and out the window. Then, when the bus finally stopped rolling and came to a rest, Irma found Yani beneath the bus itself, crushed to death.
We filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the bus operator on behalf of Taurino and Irma for the tragic loss of Yani. The Houston Chronicle recently wrote a story focusing on how the bus operator is not willing to pay for causing Yani’s death because it chose not to obtain insurance for accidents it causes outside the United States. Please see the story at http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6007747.html.
Devastated by their loss, Taurino’s and Irma’s ultimate goal is not to recover money, but instead to seek “justice.” As I sat and listened to the Chronicle’s two-hour interview, Taurino and Irma defined “justice” as making sure that the bus company never again injures or kills another parent’s child. The bus company caused Yani’s wrongful death when it chose to allow the bus driver to drive more than eight hours and not do a background check on him. Despite knowing the dangers of allowing their drivers to log such extended hours at the wheel, bus companies continue to subject their passengers to considerable risk, thinking energy drinks are an adequate solution for driver weariness.
Tragedies like Yani’s are unforgivable. Please contact your state and federal representatives and stress the importance of imposing stricter regulations on U.S. bus operators who may or may not travel outside the U.S. If aviation operators are held to a higher standard, bus companies should face the same, as both industries provide the same service – transportation.