UPDATE: Partial Victory For Defense In Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Lincoln County Schools
On May 7, 2014, State Police said Lincoln County Public School bus driver Judy Asbery, carrying 48 middle school students on Kentucky 78, swerved her bus into oncoming traffic to avoid running into the back of a bus that was stopped in traffic.
Investigators said Asbery’s bus collided head-on with a pickup truck driven by William "Otis" Coleman, 36, of Stanford.
Coleman had to be cut out of his pickup and was airlifted to UK Hospital in Lexington where he died from his blunt force trauma injuries 9-days after the accident.
Coleman’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the bus driver, superintendent, transportation director and school board.
The family’s attorney also asked for the evidence (the bus) to be preserved and made available for an independent inspection along with the bus driver’s driving and personnel records.
On Friday, Judge David Tapp granted the defense’s requests. He did remove the school board from the lawsuit.
In papers filed by attorney’s for Coleman’s estate, an inspection of the bus after the crash by the Kentucky Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, showed the brakes were out of service at the time of the collision.
State Police said investigators could not determine if the brakes were out before the collision or if the failure was caused by the wreck.
The bus is a 1994 International with more than 238,000 miles on it, according to school officials.
The bus had passed an inspection on April 3, 2014, according to school officials.
The bus was a spare from the district’s fleet because Asbery’s regular bus was getting the seats repaired, according to school officials.
Immediately following the accident, Asbery was placed on paid, administrative leave.
Recently, Superintendent Karen Hatter said Asbery was now working as a cook in the school district.
The attorney for Coleman’s family produced copies of what he said were prior complaints against Judy Asbery.
Among the claims, that Asbery ran her school bus off the road three weeks before the collision with Coleman, but didn’t report it until May 13, 2014.
The defense said there was also a complaint from September 3, 2003, that said Asbery drove recklessly, ran another vehicle off the road, was speeding and tried to pass a vehicle on the two-lane Kentucky 78.
The defense said a copy of the complaint said Asbery used bad judgment and drove too fast and that she said she was speeding because she was running late on her route. The defense said Asbery acknowledged her mistakes.
According to the document, Asbery was given a written reprimand that was put in her personnel file.
No one named in the lawsuit commented because of the pending litigation.
The next hearing in the case was scheduled for November 14, 2014.