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Burnaby couple suing Mi Joo bus company in Coquitlam

A Burnaby couple is suing the Coquitlam tour bus company, Mi Joo Tour & Travel, and its driver after the fatal bus crash in Oregon on Dec. 30, 2012. - PHOTO COURTESY OREGON STATE POLICE
A Burnaby couple is suing the Coquitlam tour bus company, Mi Joo Tour & Travel, and its driver after the fatal bus crash in Oregon on Dec. 30, 2012.
— image credit: PHOTO COURTESY OREGON STATE POLICE

A Burnaby couple who survived the bus crash that killed nine people in Oregon are suing the Coquitlam bus company and its driver.

June Won Kim and his wife, Hee Eun Kim, filed separate suits in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver alleging the bus driver, Surrey resident Haeng-Kyu Hwang, lost control of the vehicle and went down a steep embankment, flipping end-over-end as it crashed to the bottom of the cliff on Dec. 30, 2012.

They say the crash was caused by or contributed to by the fault or negligence of the driver, who allegedly failed to keep an adequate look-out, was speeding and failed to observe caution and drive appropriately given the road and weather conditions.

The suits also allege Hwang was knowingly driving a defective vehicle with inadequate or defective brakes and tires and failed to use adequate lights. It also states the driver was impaired by lack of sleep and was driving contrary to restrictions on his driver's licence.

Mi Joo Tour & Travel Ltd. is alleged in the suits to have allowed Hwang to drive despite not having informed him of the bus's maneuvering capabilities and putting the bus on the road knowing it was mechanically defective and the tires were inadequate for the road conditions.

The Kims allege Mi Joo failed to equip the bus with proper headlights and windshield wipers, tires and warning devices, and that the company allowed Hwang to drive for an excessive length of time and despite knowing he was impaired by lack of sleep.

June Won Kim, a dental technician, alleges to have suffered several injuries including to his brain and neck, as well as his hand and back, that have resulted in permanent disability. He also says he incurred facial fractures resulting in permanent cosmetic disfigurement, a collapsed lung, internal injuries and psychological effects including mood and anxiety disorder.

His wife, Hee Eun Kim, stated she suffered a brain injury and injuries to her neck, back and legs that have resulted in permanent disability, a collapsed lung and psychological injures. Her eyesight has also been permanently impaired due to an eye injury.

Both are suing for loss of current and future income and earning capacity.

A guardian for two Korean exchange students in Washington has also filed suit on their behalf against the company.

Last week Seattle attorney Mark Scheer said that Hwang was driving on a dangerous road with a history of vehicle accidents. Scheer also said the 54-year-old driver had adequate sleep the night before the crash and had been on the road for less than three hours when the crash occurred.

Nine people died and 38 passengers were injured in the crash in Pendleton, Ore.

A safety audit by the Ministry of Transportation's Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement branch ordered Mi Joo Tour & Travel to shut down until it ensures drivers are adhering to B.C. regulations.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has also ordered Mi Joo to cease operations in the U.S., claiming Hwang had spent 92 hours driving the bus during the eight-day trip throughout the western United States, 22 hours more than the maximum time allowed.

 

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