A Fresno judge has granted a new trial in the 2010 bus crash that left six people dead, ruling that the driver was driving above the speed limit and not wearing his glasses at the time of the collision.
Superior Court Judge Donald S. Black vacated the March 24 verdict in which a jury decided 10 to 2 that Greyhound Inc. was not to blame for the crash. In his ruling, Black wrote that the evidence pointed to negligence on the part of the bus company and its 57-year-old driver, James Jewett.
In the predawn hours of July 22, 2010, the bus en route to Sacramento plowed into an overturned SUV on California 99 in Fresno, killing three young women inside: Stephanie Cordoba, 20; Vanessa Gonzales, 19; and Sylvia Lopez Garay, 18.
Jewett along with two of the 36 passengers on the bus also died: Epifania Solis, 60, and Tomas Ponce, 79.
The families of the three women in the SUV filed a lawsuit against the bus company, claiming the driver was operating at an unsafe speed, was not wearing his glasses and made an unsafe lane change about the time of the crash.
In his ruling, Black wrote that witnesses gave "strong evidence" that the bus was operating above the speed limit, that the damage on Jewett's glasses indicated he was not wearing them, and that the driver negligently was traveling in the No. 1 lane at the moment of impact.
Greyhound's attorney Dana Alden Fox said in a statement to The Times that the company was deciding whether to appeal the judge's ruling.
"Greyhound is extremely disappointed that after a jury heard five weeks of evidence, and decided by a vote of 10-2 in less than two hours that Greyhound was not negligent, that the court would disregard the jury's hard work and its finding," Fox said in the statement.
Greyhound has previously denied the allegations made by the families of the three women, citing a California Highway Patrol report that confirmed Jewett was wearing his glasses and couldn't have avoided crashing into the SUV.