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Fresno's famous Greyhound bus multiple fatality DUI accident may not be a DUI accident at all?
As the civil ligation and personal injury trial approaches on the infamous Fresno DUI / Greyhound bus crash that claimed six lives on July 22, 2010. However, as the civil trial approaches there is new evidence being released to the public. The Fresno Bee reported CHP assistant chief Steve Badilla stated in July 2011, "The conclusion of this comprehensive investigation revealed that Sylvia Garay caused the collision by driving under the influence of alcohol."
Among the facts used was that the SUV was registered to Garay's mother. It was involved in the accident when it struck a concrete divider and overturned blocking the path of the Greyhound bus. The investigation also concluded that the Greyhound bus could not have stopped in time to avoid the accident. CHP reported that Three witnesses stated that Garay was the driver. However, attorneys are now saying that the CHP conclusions are incorrect. "Once of those witnesses says otherwise." Also reporting that one witness now says, "I never said Sylvia Garay was driving the vehicle."
While it would be intuitive to assume that the daughter of the owner would be the likely driver, there is evidence to the contrary. In fact, the Fresno Bee has obtained an 11 second video from earlier in that fateful night showing that Garay was not driving at the earlier time. The cell phone video shows Vanessa Garcia driving the SUV registered to Garay's mother. While far from disposition of Garay driving, it is strong circumstantial evidence that she may have continued being the driver. In fact, the same CHP report that concluded Garay was driving, also concluded that Garcia had no alcohol in her system at that time of her death. For years a deceased girl was blamed for being irresponsible and costing her life, the life of two of her friends, and three other lives. The statistics have used this case as a 6 fatality DUI. A person who was convicted of purchasing the alcohol that Garay consumed was sentenced to a harsher sentence (likely) because of the implication that a tragic result occurred due to her providing that alcohol to an underage driver, costing the lives of six people. When is a DUI fatality accident not a DUI fatality accident? When the driver is sober.
DUI's have become a political crime. Statistics, special grants and prosecutors, lobbyists, and votes depend on getting tough on DUI's. All of which is supported by statistics. It makes you wonder if a car runs a stop sign, the driver is sober, and the vehicle strikes and kills a beer delivery truck driver, would it be reported as an "alcohol related" accident?
History of the case:
Conviction: Michelle Kay Cole was convicted of purchasing alcohol for a person under the age of 21, which (may) have resulted in the deaths of six people. The CHP report alleges that 18 year old Sylvia Garay was driving drunk when the trailblazer SUV hit a concrete barrier and overturned on freeway 99. While the vehicle was disabled and partially blocking the lane, a Greyhound bus struck the SUV. Garay's BAC was alleged to be .11 at the time of her death. There were some issues regarding the Bus driver's vision, use or non use of corrective lenses, and road design have been considered factors in the case.
Fatalities: Sylvia Garay 18, James Jewet, 57, Stephanie Cordoba 20, Vanessa Gonzalez 19, Tomas Ponce, Epifina Solis 60.