$7 Million Record Settlement Reached for Estate of Motorist Killed by Reckless New Jersey School Bus Driver

A $7 million settlement has been reached between the estate of 49-year-old Harry McCracken, III, of Williamstown, N.J., and defendant Student Transportation of America (STA) related to a fatal school-bus crash on February 12, 2018, in Monroe Township. Mr. McCracken’s Honda Accord was violently struck by an STA school bus operated by a driver with a pattern of motor vehicle violations and school bus and motor vehicle accidents. Attorneys Larry Bendesky and Robert W. Zimmerman of Saltz, Mongeluzzi & Bendesky, P.C., today, on the one-year anniversary of the tragedy, said the settlement was reached without filing a lawsuit.  The agreement is believed to be one of the largest wrongful death motor vehicle settlements in New Jersey.

Mr. McCracken, a loving husband and father of two teenage daughters, was on his way to work as a warehouse supervisor when STA bus driver Lisa Davidson ignored a red light and plowed through the intersection of Tuckahoe and Glassboro Roads, according to police reports. The bus’s inward and outward-facing cameras clearly show the driver pass by several vehicles in front of her that were stopped at the red light, accelerate, and then violently crash into Mr. McCracken’s vehicle. Mr. McCracken had a green light and did nothing to cause the accident. The crushing impact of the 30,000-pound school bus, which had no passengers at the time, caused traumatic and fatal injuries to the seat-belted Mr. McCracken.

The parties agreed to mediation with the Honorable John Keefe (Ret.) on December 5, 2018, and worked together over the next two months to achieve the settlement.

Lisa Davidson never should have been driving a school bus that day, given her horrific driving record. She had a shocking history of school bus accidents, suspended licenses and terminations. She presented a clear danger to her passengers, pedestrians, and, as we now know, Harry McCracken.

Larry Bendesky

“Judge Keefe did a masterful job navigating a case filled with emotion and heartbreak. This settlement would not have been possible without his Honor’s perseverance.”

Mr. McCracken’s family is hopeful this settlement will help spur corrective actions—including in hiring practices—at STA to prevent similar tragedies in the future. Our investigation revealed Davidson was fired by three student transportation companies, including being terminated by STA in 2016. This settlement should send a message to all other student transportation companies that safety lapses will have consequences.

Robert W. Zimmerman

Ms. Davidson’s driving history also reveals that she was involved in at least four other auto accidents before Mr. McCracken was killed. At least two of those occurred while operating a school bus.

Brenda McCracken, Mr. McCracken’s widow, following the agreement, said, “We miss Harry every minute of every day. How he loved our girls. We can only hope that what we’re going through doesn’t happen to another family, and that dangerous drivers can’t get behind the wheel of another school bus.” Her family continues to mourn Mr. McCracken’s passing.

STA, headquartered in New Jersey, is the nation’s third-largest student transportation company. STA’s services are contracted by hundreds of school districts across the country, operating over 13,500 vehicles each day.

The fatal impact: Mr. McCracken's Honda Accord and the STA Bus: (Source: SMB)

The fatal impact: Mr. McCracken’s Honda Accord and the STA Bus: (Source: SMB)

Larry Bendesky / lbendesky@smbb.com / 610.639.3221 / 215.496.8282
Robert Zimmerman / rzimmerman@smbb.com / 267.872.3430 / 215.496.8282
Steph Rosenfeld / steph@idadvisors.com / 215.514.4101

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