New lawsuits filed in GSU fatal crash, investigation into truck driver's past

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Published: Apr. 23, 2015 at 6:54 PM EDT
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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

(WRDW) -- Three new lawsuits have been filed by the families of the victims involved in the crash on I-16 that killed 5 Georgia Southern students.

The families of deceased McKay Pittman and Morgan Bass filed wrongful death lawsuits with Fried Rogers Goldberg LLC Tuesday. A personal injury lawsuit was filed for Brittney McDaniel, who was injured in the crash.

An investigation by Fried Rogers Goldberg LLC also revealed that the tractor-trailer driver that hit the nursing student's vehicles, John Wayne Johnson, never hit the brakes or attempted to swerve before impact.

According to Joseph Fried, new evidence in the investigation shows that Johnson was previously fired in 2011 from a different trucking company for falling asleep at the wheel causing another wreck.

Six of the victims from the crash have all now filed lawsuits. The lone person that has not filed is the family of deceased Abbie Deloach.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) -- Civil lawsuits in a fiery highway crash that killed five Georgia nursing students say the tractor-trailer that caused the pileup was equipped with an alert system meant to help truck drivers avoid collisions.

Families of Caitlyn Baggett and Emily Clark filed wrongful deaths lawsuits Tuesday against the truck's driver and his employer, Total Transportation of Mississippi, and others. A woman injured in the crash, Megan Richards, also sued.

Authorities say Johnson's truck on April 22 smashed into traffic stalled by another wreck on Interstate 16. Bob Cheeley, an attorney for the victims, said Wednesday that an inspection found the truck had equipment designed to warn drivers of imminent crashes. He said it's unknown whether the device was working.

Total Transportation CEO John Stomps didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

(Copyright 2015. Associated Press.)

New at 6 O'clock/Thursday, April 23, 2015

JENKINS CO., Ga. (WRDW) -- Ever since the news, their quiet Jenkins County home has been flooded with visitors, all of them sharing their best memories of Georgia Southern student Caitlyn Baggett.

"She was always smiling," said Caitlyn's pastor Jamie Archer. "She was bubbly...always making some kind of joke. It was fun to be around Caitlyn."

Friends and family have described Caitlyn as a quick-witted and loving nursing student who was always eager to help others.

On Wednesday, she was killed an a car accident along with 4 other students on the way back from their final clinical rotation.

"She had just started the nursing program at GSU," said Caitlyn's aunt Brenda Gay. "She was a junior and that was her passion because her 'Mema' was a nurse."

Georgia State Patrol says the accident happened after a tractor-trailer failed to slow down in stop-and-go traffic, and slammed into the car carrying the 5 nursing students.

That car then burst into flames.

"All you had to do was look at her smile," said Caitlyn's uncle Stewart Hooks. "Everywhere she would go, she would smile and you could recognize it. She loved life and everybody could recognize it."

Caitlyn's family says things still seem surreal, but they're praying for the families of the other girls involved in the crash...

"I just never thought it could happen to anybody in my family," Hooks said. "You just see so many people lose loved ones but you're never ready for it, you're never prepared."

A CBS affiliate in Savannah reported 5 GSU students were killed and two others were injured in that 7-car accident Wednesday morning. They've also reported a 53-year-old Greg Johnson was also injured in that crash.