The driver of a church van involved in a deadly crash on the New York State Thruway last year, was driving under a revoked license that had been suspended at least 25 times. Bernard Lattibeaudierewas driving the 16-passenger minivan on September 18th, 2010. OnJanuary 18, he was charged with first-degree felony aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle and traffic-related charges.
The van was carrying a group of church members on their way to a retreat in upstate New York. About 55 miles from New York City, one ofthe tires blew out, and the van flipped over several times. Six people werekilled in the accident, while eight other people were seriously injured.Several passengers were ejected during the rollover. Only two people – the driver and front seat passenger – had been wearing seat belts at the time ofthe crash. Investigations confirmed that the main factor in the accident had been the blown tire.
Minivans, like pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles,are more susceptible to a rollover. These vehicles have a much higher chance of being in a rollover accident, especially in case of a blown tire. In fact, 15-passenger vans have been under the scanner in recent years because of the high incidence of rollover crashes involving these vehicles.
New York car accident lawyers have found that these accidents are made even more dangerous by the fact that 15 and 16-passenger vans are very often used as chartered vans. New York schools often use these vans for field trips. For instance, in this particular accident, the van had been chartered by a church group on its way to a Christian event. Because 15 and 16-passenger vans are used for group travel,the risk of multiple injuries and fatalities is much greater when these vehicles are involved in an accident.