• Families file suits against Newton County over bus wreck

    By: Rachel Stockman


    COVINGTON, Ga. - A group of parents have filed a lawsuit in the hopes of sending a safety message to Newton County Schools, following a school bus wreck that sent more than 40 students to the hospital.

    In January, a school bus rear-ended another bus on Highway 162 in Covington. More than 100 students were on board both buses.

    The driver involved in the wreck was terminated by the school district. 43 students were sent to the hospital during the accident.

    "She always asks me this when I drop her off, daddy I love you, will you be home waiting for me out front," parent Jimmy Coglianese told Channel 2's Rachel Stockman.

    Coglianese daughters' Angelina and Olivia were both injured in the accident, and he said the accident still haunts them.

    "Olivia has bad nightmares about bus wrecks and about flying out of window of bus," Coglianese said.

    Coglianese is part of a lawsuit, filed recently against the Newton County Board of Education seeking damages for the accident.

    The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit, as a class action, hoping to be granted status. No one from the district would comment on the lawsuit, citing ongoing litigation.

    "If they had the correct training, two buses wouldn't have collided and someone would have braked," attorney Sal Serio told Stockman. Serio said the driver was cited by Georgia State Patrol for following too closely.

    "I can't say it was purposeful, if they were on their cellphone, talking or distracted but something caused the bus driver not to brake because there was absolutely no braking involved in it," Serio said.

    Within the last year, there were at least two other school bus-related accidents, according to Channel 2 Action News archive.

    In March, a Newton County school bus crashed into a car, and the car driver died, according to Georgia State Patrol.

    In November, a parent pulled out in front of a bus in front of Oak Hill Elementary, resulting in a T-bone crash, according to Sherri Viniard of Newton County Schools. Several students and a parent suffered injuries. No bus drivers were cited.

    "When you put your kids on a bus, you depend on that school and those bus drivers transport your kids with all the safety they put in place," Coglianese said.

    Coglianese hopes the lawsuit, puts the district on alert when it comes to safety. No one from the district would comment on the lawsuit, citing ongoing litigation.

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