The recent death of an 11-year-old girl who was accidently thrown from a Portland party bus, as outlined in The Oregonian, is raising many disturbing questions about this often under-regulated industry and about the conduct of the adults involved. According to the newspaper, the child died when she “tumbled out of an emergency window when the bus turned a corner.” This Portland fatal child injury accident would be bad enough by itself, but the details surrounding it are truly shocking.
The Oregonian reports that the victim was part of a large group of children who were board the party bus with no adult supervision. The vehicle’s 61-year old driver was the only grown-up on board the bus. Moreover, the driver himself “wasn’t permitted to operate a party bus carrying about 20. The bus didn’t have a permit from the city of Portland, either” the newspaper adds.
The amount of irresponsibility on display here is really quite stunning. Why did the company let a driver lacking the proper license operate any of its vehicles, let alone one carrying children? Why would it even allow a party bus filled with children out on the road without any adult supervision? Even if the driver were properly qualified to operate the vehicle, a bus driver who is doing his job cannot do so safely while also supervising nearly two dozen children.
The accident also raises broader policy questions about the entire party bus industry. The Oregonian’s story notes that while party buses are subject to a range of regulations here in Oregon application of the rules is often uneven. The paper quotes a member of the Portland City Council saying that 32 unlicensed party bus operators are active in the city, an issue, he says, that has worried council members for some time.
As a Portland child injury lawyer it is difficult to understand how a bus carrying children could come to be operated in such an irresponsible and negligent manner. All of us need to do everything we can to keep children safe at all times. Our courts play an important role in enforcing accountability for negligent actions, but it is even more important that all of us act responsibly when the safety of children is placed in our hands.
The Oregonian: Party bus death of 11-year-old: No adults aboard but driver