Deadly crash survivor set to take on trucking company

BRYAN COUNTY, Ga. — A nursing student who survived a crash that killed five of her classmates says she's ready to take on the trucking company that has been blamed for the wreck.

Former nursing student Megan Richards will get her day in court Tuesday, nearly two years after surviving a fiery truck crash that killed five Georgia Southern University nursing students and injured one other.

The deadly wreck happened in April 2015 along Interstate 16 outside of Savannah.

Killed in the crash were Emily Clark, a junior from Powder Springs; Morgan Bass, a junior from Leesburg; Abbie Deloach, a junior from Savannah; McKay Pittman, a junior from Alpharetta; and Caitlyn
Bagget, a junior from Millen.


Richards and another student were also injured in the wreck.

Of the seven civil suits filed after the crash, this is the only one to see the inside of a courtroom.

As the two sides get set to square off in Bryan County on Tuesday, Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant spoke Monday exclusively with Richards' parents and her lawyer about why Megan wants this all aired out in court.

"We have a classic good scenario, good versus wrong. Light versus darkness," attorney Bob Cheeley told Diamant.

Cheeley said he likes his chances at trial this week as he gets set to take on Total Transportation of Mississippi and its parent company, U.S. Xpress Enterprises, which were blamed for the horrific crash.

"She is now carrying the scars of this wreck with her for the rest of her life," Cheeley said.

"You don't expect to bring your kid back in the house and have her bed right beside you and taking care of her in a lot of pain. You don't want to see your kids go through this," Dalton Richards, Megan’s father, told Diamant.

In July, truck driver John Wayne Johnson pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and was sentenced to five years in prison.

The trucking company has already settled civil suits for more than $70 million that were brought by the families of the women who died and the other survivor.

But Richards’ case heads to court in Bryan County on Tuesday after the two sides failed to come to terms.

"It's been very difficult. She still struggles with PTSD. She has trouble sleeping. She's on medication. She naps all the time when she's home just because she doesn't sleep through the night, so it's really sad seeing her go through that," Megan’s mother, Mandy Richards, said.

Cheeley told Diamant he plans to call 20 witnesses to the stand,including medical experts, the imprisoned truck driver and Megan Richards, to hold the company accountable.

"Megan feels that (the reason) she should push it in the court is really their attitude about her injuries. It's almost like they don't respect what she's gone through," Dalton Richards said.

In 2015, an investigation by Diamant found the trucking company's safety record had been flagged by the federal government at the time of the crash.

Diamant’s calls and emails to the trucking company's lawyer were not returned Monday.