A Texas Department of Public Safety investigation rendered a decision that has bus driver Loyd Rieve as being responsible for the April bus crash in Irving that ended in the death of three women who were on a charter that was heading to a casino in Oklahoma.
The case was referred by the agency to the Dallas County district attorney’s office along with their recommendation that a grand jury consider an indictment of the 65 year-old driver on the charge of criminally negligent homicide.
On April 11 of this year, on State Highway 161, the bus was on its way to the Choctaw Casino in Durant, Oklahoma when the crash occurred. Forty people on the bus were injured while Alice Stanley, 82; Paula Hahn, 69; and trip organizer, Sue Taylor, 81, all died as a result of their injuries in the crash.
According to Department of Public Safety’s Sgt. Lonny Haschel, the condition of the vehicle, eyewitness statements, as well as driver records all pointed toward Rieve’s role in the accident.
“It all came back to the driver,” he said. “They couldn’t find anything wrong with the vehicle. And in that case, they made the decision to turn it over to the DA’s office and let the grand jury decide if charges need to be pursued.”
Rieve himself had previously told an accident investigator that he “possibly could have blacked out” before losing control of the wheel. He could not, however, be reached for comment Tuesday.
The Department of Public Safety referred the case the district attorney’s office on Friday.
Dallas County district attorney’s office, spokesperson, Debbie Denmon, said that the prosecutors in the grand jury division will look at the DPS evidence “and see if the charge is appropriate.” If they determine it is, they will take the case to the grand jury, which could indict Rieve “based on the charge and the evidence collected.”
Denmon further stated that it may take several weeks before the grand jury is actually able to review the case.
This is the second fatality accident involving Rieve. In 1998, a grand jury declined to indict Reive on a charge of criminally negligent homicide when he was driving a tour bus and ran over someone helping out at the scene of an accident.
Accidents are a part of life. Unfortunately, in some motor vehicle accidents, people die. Any number of factors can contribute to an accident such as traffic, equipment failure, road conditions, driver distraction, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and even medical conditions of a driver can be all be a contributing factor.
Some prosecutors in the State of Texas seek charge someone with a felony, especially if another person involved in an accident dies. When a charge of Criminally Negligent Homicide is made, it is a state jail felony punishable by spending time in a State Jail Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for a term of no less than 6 months, but no more than 2 years. This carries a fine of up to $10,000. To be convicted of the charge of Criminally Negligent Homicide, the State must prove that the person being charged with the crime should have been aware and able to prevent the accident, however, for whatever reason, wasn’t or didn’t. The State must also prove that the end result was the person charged having made a substantial and unjustifiable risk that ultimately resulted in the death of the other person.
If the State believes that the person did create a substantial and unjustifiable risk that resulted in a fatality, then the State will most likely charge the person with Manslaughter, which is a 2nd degree felony punishable by a term of confinement in prison for a term of not less than 2 years and no more than 20 years. However, if the State alleges, and a jury agrees with the allegation, that the motor vehicle that the person charged was driving when the accident occurred was a deadly weapon, then the charge could be escalated to criminally negligent homicide.
Bus accidents may be rare, but they still cause injury or death to thousands of victims nationwide. Bus accident claims are often much more complicated than normal car accidents, because bus and transit companies have lucrative contracts with large insurance companies—and they have the resources to fight your claim. These insurance companies will often try to pay you far less than what you really need for your injuries and other costs.
Our advice is to never sign any statement or agree to any offer from an insurer unless you have spoke to a qualified legal professional. This is why we offer a free consultation to victims—we believe you have the right to make an informed legal decision without financial pressure.
When you call us, we will match you with an attorney who has the experience to work with your specific case. Our attorneys are well versed in the laws surrounding bus accidents and other transit claims. We will launch an investigation into your case, put pressure on the insurance company and push them aggressively to give you the full amount you deserve. Don’t wait. Contact us or use the form on the right and get your free consultation today.