The family of Centralia, Missouri, resident Michael Heaston has filed a wrongful death suit against both the City of Colombia and bus driver Archie Smith Jr. Heaston was killed this summer when he struck the bus Smith was driving while riding his motorcycle.
On July 12, Smith was driving his bus southbound and attempted to turn onto the eastbound lanes. He states that he had stopped at the stop sign, but did not see Heaston approaching. He was unaware of the motorcycle until he heard the brakes screech, and then a bang hitting the side of his vehicle. The investigation determined that Heaston had attempted to turn and avoid the impact, but hit the side of the bus anyway. He was pinned underneath the vehicle for several minutes before getting help, and died the next day despite receiving treatment.
The investigation further concluded that Smith had not yielded properly. Based on this and the events of the accident, Heaston’s family filed the wrongful death suit in late November. The suit charges that in addition to failing to yield, that Smith made no effort to avoid the accident, as well as that he failed to maintain proper attention to the road.
However, video evidence and speed analysis have suggested that Heaston was driving too fast in the 35 mph lane he was traveling in, as well as suggesting he wore an improper helmet. Both the City of Colombia and Smith deny any wrongdoing, and insist that because Heaston was speeding and because he was wearing a half-sized helmet that did not meet minimum road safety standards, they were not at fault in Heaston’s death.
Despite this, the attorneys for the Heaston family are confident the evidence is in their favor.
“The driver didn’t look,” the Heastons’ attorney was quoted as saying.