iowa bus fire

Family of Iowa girl who died in 2017 school bus fire gets $4.8 million settlement

Feb. 14, 2020
The family of Megan Klindt, 16, sued the Riverside Community School District; she died when she was trapped in a burning school bus near her home.

A western Iowa school district will pay $4.8 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of 16-year-old girl who died in a 2017 school bus fire that also killed the bus driver.

ABC News reports that the Riverside Community School District reached the settlement earlier this week with the family of Megan Klindt, who died in December 2017 when the bus she was riding on became stuck in a ditch near her home, leading to a fire in the engine compartment that spread to the passenger compartment.

Neither Megan nor the driver, Donnie Hendricks, 74, was able to get off the burning bus, and both died.

[FROM 2017: High school student, driver die in Iowa school bus fire]

Klindt's family sued for negligence and wrongful death, arguing that the district knew Hendricks was in poor health and still allowed him to drive the bus.

The case was set to go to trial next month in Pottawattamie County District Court.

An attorney for the school district had declined to reveal the amount of the settlement, saying the details were confidential. But the Iowa Freedom of Information Council released the agreement because such settlements must be made public under Iowa’s public records law.

The agreement shows that two of the district's insurers will split payment of the settlement. The district did not admit to any liability.

A report on the accident issued last year by the National Transportation Safety Board faulted the district for not ensuring that Hendricks was medically fit.

[FROM 2019: Agency says more stringent driver standards could have prevented 2017 fatal school bus crash in Iowa]

The report also found that tougher standards for school bus drivers and a fire suppression system could have prevented the deaths.

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