FRESNO, CA (June 19, 2008) – The parents of a two-year-old girl who was run over and killed by a Head Start school bus have settled their wrongful death lawsuit for $1,000,000. Audryana Gonzales was struck and killed by a Head Start school bus on November 28, 2006, in Sanger, California. The bus was operated by the Fresno County Economic Opportunities Commission (EOC). The parents filed a lawsuit in Fresno County Superior Court against the EOC and the driver of the bus. A jury trial began on June 9, 2008, before the Honorable Adolfo Corona. After two weeks of trial, and on the eve of closing arguments, the case was settled.
During the trial, there was testimony that defendants had failed to comply with a federal regulation that requires Head Start children to be dropped off on their side of the street, and with a California state law that requires bus drivers to escort children in 8th grade and below across the street. On the day of Audryana’s death, her older sister was being dropped off across the street from her home. The driver did not escort the child across the street, and struck and killed Audryana as he drove away.
The parents were represented by Morrison & Foerster LLP in San Francisco. “This is an important case,” said Arturo J. González, the family’s lead trial counsel. “If the child had been dropped off on her side of the street, or escorted across the street, this tragedy could have been avoided. We are hopeful that this settlement will cause all Head Start bus operators to look at their training to ensure that they are complying with state and federal law.”
“Maybe this settlement will help save someone else’s child,” added Alexis Amezcua, an associate with Morrison & Foerster who served as second chair at trial.
A press conference will be held at noon today outside the Radisson Hotel in Fresno, California, located at 2233 Ventura Street, to discuss the case. The parents of the child will be present.