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San Diego Bus Passenger Prevents Potential Bus Accident

San Diego News 6 reports that Emily Knudson is being praised as a hero for calling 911 on June 1, 2010 when she suspected the driver of the bus she was riding on was intoxicated. She was a passenger on a North County transit bus traveling between Oceanside and Encinitas when she noticed the bus driver, 40-year-old David Costello, was driving erratically, appearing sweaty, making random stops, including once to relieve himself on the side of the road.

Deputy Brenda Weibe stopped the bus and administered several sobriety tests, which Costello failed, and was said to have a blood alcohol level of .25 which is six times the legal limit for commercial drivers. Deputy Weibe said, “His right eye was actually closed — and when I asked him to open his eyes, they were red, they were blood shot — swollen and droopy. His motor coordination was slow, his speech was slow and slurred.” Costello was taken into custody and transported to Vista jail.

Applicable California Law

Costello will face numerous criminal charges including driving under the influence and most likely reckless endangerment to name a few. However, had he caused an accident, he would also face potential claims for property damage, and or personal injury. Given his blood alcohol level, punitive damages for gross negligence could also be claimed. In addition, since Costello was in the course and scope of his employment, the North County Transit District would also be responsible for any damages. I would refer you to my prior Blog posts for the claims reporting requirements relating to public/government entities, as well as when employers can be subject to punitive damages for the acts of their employees.

Emily Knudson averted a potential catastrophe by alerting the authorities, which could have resulted in serious personal injury, or wrongful death to the passengers of the bus, pedestrians, or other motorists. Bus accidents, auto accidents, motorcycle accidents involving drunk drivers are far too common. In addition, route 309 is heavily traveled by bicycle riders, who are at great risk of serious injury. Being a resident of north county, the safety of my family, neighbors, and friends were at risk. Sometimes fate can put us in a harm’s way, so when serious injury, or wrongful death touches our lives, the guidance and support of an experienced personal injury attorney is invaluable.