• July 15, 2022

14 Injured in Bus Accident on Highway 54 near Eugene, MO

Eugene, MO — July 14, 2022, several people from a church youth group were injured in a bus crash off Highway 54 in Cole County.

According to reports the incident happened around 2:30 a.m. along Highway 54 near Farm View Road. Preliminary investigation suggests a Prevost H3 Coach bus carrying a Honey Creek youth group home from Houston was traveling on the roadway when the driver, 62-year-old Thomas Babbitt, fell asleep. The bus then left the road and hit a ditch in the median, then passed through the oncoming lanes and hit another ditch, a house, a shed, and a fence. It then came to a stop in a nearby field.

Of the 28 people aboard the bus at the time, 14 were taken to area hospitals for treatment of injuries ranging from minor to moderate.

The investigation is ongoing. No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Bus Accident on Hwy 54 near Eugene

It's hard to say whether liability is an issue here since the church may own the bus and the driver may simply have been a congregation member that volunteered to drive. However, if it was a charter bus and he's a professional driver, his employer may be liable for the damage done. Even with fault seemingly clear in reports, though, I caution against thinking things are that easy for victims of commercial vehicle wrecks.

14 Injured in Bus Accident on Highway 54 near Eugene, MO

The truth is that commercial firms of almost any stripe are highly reluctant to admit fault when their employees cause damage. I see it most often with 18-wheeler accidents, but any company with assets and a reputation to protect is likely to try and avoid blame. That means coming up with whatever "creative" explanations they can about how the wreck happened as well as disputing narratives from police and the news. The best and perhaps the only way to ensure they're held properly accountable is to find all the facts of the crash and build a case on those. With only objective information telling the story it's much harder for a company to find cracks to slip through.

Again, none of that may apply if a church member just happened to nod off in the wee hours of the morning. I'm certainly not accusing the man of anything malicious, nor am I presuming one way or the other what his specific relation to the church might be. I'm only pointing out that it's a detail that deserves attention since his mistake put over two dozen lives in potential jeopardy. Depending on what a thorough investigation shows, someone may have a duty to help the victims get back on their feet.

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