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Bluffton University Students Come to Grips with Grief After Bus Accident in Atlanta

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The injured students from the Bluffton University baseball team who were on the bus when it dropped 30 feet from a highway overpass are trying to recover from their physical injuries and come to grips with the loss four of their fellow players after the bus accident last week. At the same time students back on campus are also beginning the long road of managing the grief from the catastrophe.

Bluffton identified the players who died as sophomore infielder David Betts of Bryan, Ohio; freshman third and first baseman Scott Harmon of Lima, Ohio; freshman pitcher Cody Holp of Arcanum, Ohio; and sophomore outfielder Tyler Williams, also of Lima. Also killed were the bus driver, Jerome Niemeyer, and his wife, Jean, both of Columbus Grove, Ohio.

Despite these losses there is still the immediate need to get answers as to how such a horrible accident could have occured? Preliminary investigation suggests that the driver of the bus was well rested to ruling out sleep deprivation as a possible cause and that there were no substantial skid marks to suggest that the driver had any advanced notice or reason to believe that this was an exit ramp as opposed to a continuation of the highway.

Of the 42,643 people killed on our nation’s highways in 2003, over 25,000 died when their vehicle left their lane and crashed. In some cases the vehicle crossed the centerline and was involved in a head-on crash or opposite direction sideswipe. In others, the vehicle encroached onto the shoulder and beyond to rollover or impact one or more natural or man-made objects, such as utility poles, bridge walls, embankments, guardrails, parked vehicles, or trees.

The State of Georgia, which seems to pride itself on attention to roadside safety, missed the boat on this tragic accident. The overwhelming evidence publicly released suggests that the sole cause of this accident was the inadequate highway design. Moreover, this was not an unexpected event but a foreseeable circumstance with over 80 prior incidents providing warning to the state that action should have been taken to correct the defect.