C-Tran sued for wrongful death of boy in 2012 crash

11-year-old was riding bike, collided with bus

By Eric Florip, Columbian Transportation & Environment Reporter



The family of an 11-year-old boy who died after a collision with a C-Tran bus in 2012 has sued the transit agency in a wrongful death complaint.

Ben Fulwiler was riding his bicycle near Main Street and 27th Street in Vancouver when a bus, traveling south, turned left onto 27th Street on April 28, 2012. Fulwiler and the bus collided, causing the boy to then be run over by the vehicle’s rear wheels. He later died at a hospital.

Fulwiler’s parents, Dustin Fulwiler and Jennifer Kanna, allege that the driver of the bus, Deborah Knox, acted negligently and failed to keep a proper lookout for pedestrians or bicycles in the moments leading up to the collision. The boy’s parents also argue Knox failed to stop soon enough after the impact to prevent him from being caught under the wheels and killed.

The complaint was filed Tuesday in Clark County Superior Court.

Knox did not face criminal charges as a result of the crash. A prosecutor’s investigation determined that Fulwiler ran into the left side of the bus, several feet behind the driver, while it made the left turn. The boy then fell to the ground and was run over as the bus completed the turn, according to the investigation. The prosecutor wrote that Knox was driving in a “normal fashion.”

Knox is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. It names only C-Tran, which the complaint argues is legally responsible for Fulwiler’s death.

Kenneth Friedman, an attorney representing Fulwiler’s parents, said the family has been in contact with C-Tran at times during the past two years. The two sides attempted mediation earlier this month, but were unsuccessful, he said.

“The parties were too far apart,” Friedman said.

C-Tran public affairs manager Jim Quintana said the agency remains “deeply saddened” by the crash and the boy’s death. C-Tran is open to whatever information comes from the legal proceedings, but has deferred to police and prosecutors’ conclusions, he said.

The lawsuit seeks economic and noneconomic damages. The family had previously filed a claim with C-Tran seeking $15 million, Friedman said.

Fulwiler was a sixth-grader at Pacific Middle School when he died.

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