Family of man killed in bus wreck sues

January 15, 2008 10:06:00 AM PST
The family of a man killed in a bus accident this month near Victoria has filed a lawsuit against the owner, operator and driver of the bus, an attorney said Tuesday. Pedro Mendez was killed during the pre-dawn accident Jan. 2 that seriously injured several other passengers on a charter bus traveling from Monterrey, Mexico, to Houston.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Harris County District Court, alleges three companies that owned, leased, maintained or operated the bus did not properly screen, test and qualify drivers, according to attorney Richard Mithoff, who is representing Mendez's family.

The 42-year-old driver, Roberto Garcia Cruz, veered off U.S. 59 after getting sleepy, according to a Texas Department of Public Safety report on the wreck. When he attempted to pull back onto the road, he overcorrected, sending the bus zigzagging across the roadway, the report found.

The bus, owned by Capricorn Bus Lines Inc. of Houston, rolled over and came to a stop before the driver of a pickup truck hit the bus' underside. That driver was not hurt.

The lawsuit says drivers were not properly trained or supervised or prevented from driving while fatigued.

Cruz, Capricorn, International Charter Services Inc. and Transportes Chavez Inc. are named in the 21-page suit.

Messages left for Capricorn and Transportes Chavez were not immediately returned Tuesday. There was no answer at a number for International Charter Services. No phone number could be found for Cruz, but a message was left for him at Capricorn. A message left for Mithoff was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Mendez's widow, Rosalba, and daughter, Veronica, also were on the bus.

- Headlines at a glance