Lawsuit filed in death of Hudson's Bay student

Monserrat Hernandez Garcia, 18, was struck and killed by a bus in Northwest Portland

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

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The mother of a Vancouver teen who was struck and killed by a charter bus in Northwest Portland last month has filed a $5 million wrongful death claim against the driver and his employer.

“Monserrat Hernandez Garcia was just three days away from graduating high school,” said Hala Gores, attorney for Hernandez Garcia’s mother, Maria Del Carmen Hernandez. “She wanted to become a nurse before this preventable bus crash took her life.”

The lawsuit filed Thursday in Multnomah County Circuit Court alleges bus driver Charles Atarashi Start, 68, was overworked by his employer, Seattle-based MTR Western LLC, when the bus he was driving struck Hernandez Garcia, 18, while she was in a marked crosswalk with an illuminated walk signal.

The lawsuit claims that MTR Western required him to “operate the bus an excessive number of hours without proper rest” and that Start drove the bus in “a careless manner.”

The incident occurred at about 3:50 p.m. June 8 at Northwest Sixth Avenue and Glisan Street. Hernandez Garcia was having car trouble, so she rode the MAX and then walked to her job at Bridgeport Brewing in the Pearl District, according to previous news reports.

3 days from graduation

She was a senior at Vancouver’s Hudson’s Bay High School and was on track to graduate three days later.

The suit seeks $3.5 million in economic damages and $1.5 million in other damages.

Gores said the crash that killed Hernandez Garcia was one block away from where a TriMet bus struck and killed Jenee Hammel, 26, of Gresham, Ore., and Danielle Sale, 22, of Vancouver in 2010. Gores said she represented Hammel’s estate in a wrongful death suit. That case ended with a settlement that required TriMet and the bus manufacturer to pay $4 million to the women’s estates.