• Lawsuits filed in crash that killed 5 Ga. Southern nursing students

    By: Aaron Diamant

    Updated:

    ATLANTA - Parents of three of the five nursing students killed in a South Georgia truck crash last month, plus one of the survivors, have now filed lawsuits.

    The students attended Georgia Southern University. Two were from metro Atlanta.

    On Wednesday, investigative reporter Aaron Diamant got a look at those lawsuits, which, at their core, seek to get to the bottom of why the crash happened.

    "If we can help somebody else from sitting here having to talk about their daughter, that's what we'd like to do," said Craig Clark in an interview with Diamant last month. Craig and Kathy Clark’s daughter Emily died in the crash.

    "They want to hold this company and its driver accountable, and how else can you do it," said Atlanta Attorney, Bob Cheeley.

    The civil complaint, filed in Bryan County by survivor Megan Richards and the parents of Abbie DeLoach, Caitlyn Bagget, and Emily Clark, names Total Transportation of Mississippi, its driver, John Wayne Johnson, parent company US Xpress and their insurers. Diamant sat down with Cheeley, who described the evidence collected by his investigators so far.

    "The trucker didn't brake,” Cheely said. “He was traveling 68 miles an hour according to the black box on the trailer. He didn't make any evasive action, and the truck was equipped with a crash avoidance system."

    Georgia State Patrol confirmed the truck slammed into two SUV's carrying the women on Interstate 16 near Statesboro as they were stopped in traffic from another crash two miles ahead. The lawsuit also names the Pooler, Georgia trucking company and its driver blamed for that initial crash.

    Abbie DeLoach's father, Jimmy, hopes the sweeping lawsuit sends a strong message.

    "How can I make sure that you don't receive that phone call that sends your world into a different spin," the elder DeLoach asked rhetorically.

    Meanwhile, Buckhead attorney Joe Fried has held off filing his client's lawsuits for now.

    "These people can't sleep,” Fried told Diamant. "Right now, what my clients really want more than anything else, they want answers."

    Fried represents survivor Brittany McDaniel, and the parents of Catherine Pittman and Morgan Bass. Fried told us Total Transportation of Mississippi has agreed to give up certain information ahead of the lawsuit.

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