Football players, coaches sue Chester church over fatal Hwy 74 b - | WBTV Charlotte

Football players, coaches sue Chester church over fatal Hwy 74 bus crash

(Photo sent to WECT by Joe Bernardini) (Photo sent to WECT by Joe Bernardini)

Several Ramah JUCO Academy football players and coaches are suing a Chester church over a bus crash that left four people dead and multiple others injured last month in Hamlet.

The lawsuit was filed in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas Monday.

The dozen plaintiffs, including Coach Bakari Rawlinson, are suing The Sandy River Baptist Church, who the 1993 MCI Motor Coach Bus was registered to. 

The JUCO football team chartered the bus, which was taking them from Rock Hill to Fayetteville on Sept. 17. 

Investigators say tire failure caused the bus to swerve into the median, side swipe a guardrail, and crash into a bridge column. Two players, an 8-year-old son of one of the coaches, and the driver were all killed. Forty two others were injured.

The team is citing negligence on the church's behalf, saying the church:

  • Failed to properly maintain and service the bus
  • Failed to ascertain the usability of the tires on the bus
  • Failed to make proper inspection of the bus before proceeding on its journey from Rock Hill to Fayetteville

The team members claim they were "severely, seriously and painfully inured" in the crash and that they have incurred expenses for medical treatments. They also cite pain and suffering.

"As a further direct and proximate result of Defendants' negligence, Plaintiffs, and each of them, suffered and suffers from Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD)," the court document reads. 

Last week, Highway Patrol announced no criminal charges would be filed in the fatal crash, but the federal investigation remains open. 

RELATED: No criminal charges to be filed in fatal U.S. 74 bus crash

During a post-crash inspection of the motor coach, Highway Patrol found the following civil penalty violations against Sandy River Baptist Church:

  • Failure to have financial responsibility for a “For Hire” passenger carrying vehicle
  • Failure to have a I.F.T.A. Fuel Tax Registration (International Fuel Tax Agreement)
  • Failure to have the carrier name marked properly on both sides of the vehicle
  • Failure to have the proper “apportioned registration plates

Highway Patrol said they had completed their investigation and confirmed the cause of the crash was contributed to tire failure. 

Rawlinson told WBTV that he met with driver Brian Andre Kirkpatrick the night before the wreck to pay for the trip.

RELATED: Coach of football team involved in deadly bus crash says he paid for trip, federal investigation continues

“You can’t get those lives back, and that’s the hurtful part,” Rawlinson said.

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