Some pas­sen­gers sue DUI Grey­hound driver who crashed on High­way 99

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - News - BY ROBERT RO­DRIGUEZ rro­[email protected]­

Sev­eral pas­sen­gers on a Grey­hound bus that crashed on south­bound High­way 99 on March 24 are su­ing the bus line and the driver for neg­li­gence af­ter he was ar­rested for driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence.

The law­suit, filed Wed­nes­day in Fresno County Su­pe­rior court, al­leges Grey­hound knew sev­eral days be­fore the crash the driver of the bus, 28-year-old Ash­ton Ren­nick Castillo, was driv­ing on a sus­pended li­cense.

Cal­i­for­nia High­way Pa­trol in­ves­ti­ga­tors con­firmed his li­cense was sus­pended or with­drawn March 21 in New Mex­ico, four days be­fore the crash.

“Based on this sus­pen­sion, de­fen­dant Castillo was not al­lowed to drive any mo­tor ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing the sub­ject bus,” the law­suit states.

But Grey­hound still al­lowed him to drive, the law­suit al­leges. The Bee called Grey­hound on Fri­day, seek­ing a re­sponse the law­suit’s al­le­ga­tions. That call was not re­turned Fri­day af­ter­noon.

The night of the crash, the bus was headed to Los An­ge­les from Sacra­mento with 38 pas­sen­gers. At about 9:30 p.m. the bus slammed into a guardrail on High­way 99 in Fresno. About 10 peo­ple com­plained of pain fol­low­ing the crash, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said.

One of those pas­sen­gers, Free­man Mays of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, told the CHP af­ter the crash he no­ticed Castillo had “trou­ble walk­ing and looked like he was ei­ther sleepy or high,” ac­cord­ing to the law­suit.

Mays is one of the pas­sen­gers fil­ing the law­suit. The sur­vivors are seek­ing gen­eral dam­ages, puni­tive dam­ages and any other re­lief the court may find ap­pro­pri­ate. Their lawyer Brit­tney Baca of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia said her clients are suf­fer­ing from neck, back, and shoul­der pain, along with some numb­ness to the legs for one of the plain­tiffs.

Other pas­sen­gers re­ported that Castillo was so out of it that he was un­able to load the bags and needed help from other pas­sen­gers. He even got in the bus and for­got to close the cargo area.

Mays said Castillo had a hard time stay­ing in his lane while driv­ing down High­way 99 near Madera.

“The bus was in and out of the right lane and con­tin­u­ally run­ning over the rum­ble strips on the right side of the road­way,” ac­cord­ing to the law­suit.

Castillo lost con­trol of the bus in Fresno as it drove off the high­way and onto the west as­phalt shoul­der, where it con­tin­ued un­til he struck a con­crete em­bank­ment.

The bus then veered back across the free­way, crash­ing into guardrail and fi­nally com­ing to rest in the right-hand lane of High­way 99 as it tran­si­tions to east­bound High­way 180.

Castillo was ar­rested and charged with felony DUI and a mis­de­meanor count of driv­ing with a sus­pended or re­voked li­cense. When po­lice ar­rested him they found three open bag­gies of cannabis ed­i­bles.

Castillo pleaded no con­test to the felony DUI charge and the mis­de­meanor charge of driv­ing with a sus­pended li­cense was dis­missed as part of plea agree­ment. He will be sen­tenced on Oct. 30.

Ash­ton Castillo

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