Athletic Team Transportation Accidents

Yesterday morning, a bus carrying the Seton Hall University lacrosse team to an afternoon game left the roadway and crashed into a tree, killing the driver and coach Kristina Quigley, 30, who was six months pregnant. Quigley and the driver, Anthony Guaetta, 61, along with coaches and athletes, were among 23 people aboard the bus when it crashed.  Although there were several injuries, Guaetta, Quigley, and Quigley's unborn child were the only fatalities. Team transportation accidents, because of the high number of vehicle occupants, can be particularly tragic.  Heavy mileage of team travel combined with high occupancy and short travel deadlines can put a number of lives at risk, causing athletic leagues, high schools, and universities to draft transportation guidelines designed to maximize the safety of team travel. Still, accidents can occur despite the best laid plans and policies.  In the United States, a number of professional, collegiate, recreational, and high school teams have suffered the loss of coaches, teammates, and others in deadly transportation accidents. Aviation accidents, charter bus accidents, and 15-passenger van accidents can cause multiple injuries and fatalities in a single crash. Unfortunately, Oklahoma is no stranger to athletic team aviation accidents.  Oklahoma State University basketball suffered two devastating plane crashes in ten years.  In January 2001, a Beechcraft Super King Air charter flight crashed in Colorado, killing ten people, including two members of the OSU Cowboys men's basketball team, team staff, and members of the media.  In November 2011, four people associated with Oklahoma State women's basketball were killed when a chartered Piper PA-28 Cherokee crashed in Arkansas.  Oklahoma State Cowgirls head coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna, along with the pilot and his wife, were killed in the accident. Other transportation accidents involving United States sports teams include:

  • October 31, 1903 - train wreck killing 17 people, including 14 members of the Purdue University football team
  • October 29, 1960 - plane crash killing 22 people, including 16 members of the California Polytechnic State University football team
  • February 15, 1961 - plane crash killing 18 people, including the entire U.S. Figure Skating team
  • October 2, 1970 - plane crash killing 31 people, including the coach and 14 players of the Wichita State University football team
  • November 14, 1970 - plane crash killing 75 people, including most of the Marshall University football team
  • December 13, 1977 - plane crash killing 29, including the entire team and coaching staff of the University of Evansville men's basketball team along with members of the press, boosters, and the flight crew
  • March 2, 2007 - bus accident killing 7 members of the Bluffton University baseball team
In nearly every transportation accident, investigators can pinpoint a preventable cause:  poor roadway design, as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) noted in the Bluffton bus accident; drunk driving; distracted driving; flying despite poor weather conditions; improper vehicle maintenance; failure to follow safety protocols including time behind the wheel and driver rest. When a serious or fatal transportation accident occurs as a result of negligence or recklessness, injured victims and surviving family members have the right to pursue compensation from those liable for the accident.

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