Pennsylvania lawsuit alleges driver, agency were negligent in fatal train-minibus crash


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EVANS CITY, Pennsylvania — The families of people hurt or killed when a freight train hit their minibus in western Pennsylvania have sued the bus driver and transportation agency for negligence.

The lawsuit Monday came a year after bus driver Frank Schaffner was sentenced to 16 years of probation in the April 2013 crash that killed two people and injured eight.

The bus was transporting senior citizens and people with disabilities in Butler, about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh.

Butler County Rural Transit, which operated the bus for the Alliance for Nonprofit Resources, did not immediately return a telephone message left Thursday. An attorney who represented Schaffner in the criminal case also did not return a message.

Evans City police said bus surveillance video shows Schaffner didn't stop at the crossing, which doesn't have warning lights or gates. Schaffner told police he didn't stop, although it was foggy that morning, because he'd never encountered a train during the hundreds of times he crossed the tracks in the past.

Schaffner told police he didn't hear the train over a radio, though his passengers did and began screaming. He told police he saw the train when it was about 70 feet away and he tried to speed up and get out of its way.

Ninety-one-year-old Claudette Miller and 88-year-old John Burkett were killed in the crash.

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