Bus Driver Faces Lawsuit For Crash Caught on Camera


Was a bus driver distracted at the time of a Central Ohio crash?  A jury will have to decide the answer.

Driver Chris Barthelmas was driving on Interstate 70 in Licking County on April 14, 2013 when his pickup ran out of gas.

15-year-old Rodney Matthews was a passenger in the pickup.

According to a crash report, Barthelmas got out to push.

Around the same time, bus driver Tery Elzey, who on a bus camera earlier appeared to be handling a phone and driving the bus, was also coming down the interstate.

10TV's Kristyn Hartman spoke with the attorney for Matthews' mother April.

He showed 10TV video from the camera on board..

"You can look at the video and draw your own conclusions. I would invite the viewer to do that," said attorney Jim Malek.

Malek focused on the 28 seconds prior to the crash.

"Elzey appears to have diverted his attention from the roadway to whatever he's doing here with his left hand," said Malek.

In the unedited stretch, 10TV counted Elzey seeming to glance off eight times while the bus weaved over the white line on the road's edge.

"If you're not paying attention to the roadway I guess you might not see what is to be seen," said Malek.

After the crash, Elzey got off the bus and called 911.  "I was driving along and all the sudden they were there," he said in the call.

It's unclear if the pickup had flashing tail lights because of extreme damage to the back end.  The traffic report said the headlights had been on.

The crash threw Barthelmas.  He died at the scene.

April's son recovered but now lives with pins in his back.  She's angry about what happened on the road.

"I hope people see this and realize they need to be paying attention," said April Matthews.  "We all drive weapons of mass destruction.  We can harm people, kill people, we can permanently damage them."

Tery Elzey's attorney for the misdemeanor case said, "I see the video in a different way."

He wouldn't comment further because it goes to court in August.

Petermann, the bus company, also wouuldn't comment because it's named in civil litigation.

Chris Barthelmas' sister says he tested positive for drugs but he was a good guy who didn't ask to get hit and killed that early morning.