Family of Deceased Bicyclist Sues Tour Bus Company

Bike MessengerThe family of the bicyclist that was killed by a tour bus in Chicago has filed a lawsuit against the bus driver and the company that owned the bus.

The Incident

On June 15, 2016, 29-year old Blaine Klingenberg had just finished with his shift as a bike messenger and was heading to the Oak Street Beach to meet up with friends. He was riding his bicycle north on Michigan while a bus was driving westbound at Oak. At the intersection, there was a collision and Klingenberg was dragged and pinned under the bus’s right side. He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The Aftermath

The Chicago Police Department reported that Klingenberg was at fault because he had pedaled through a red light. The police report indicated, “The victim disregarded the light at Oak and turned into the bus, causing the collision.” They did not issue a citation to the driver and stated that, “Detectives determined the incident was unavoidable by the driver of the tour bus.”

However, eyewitnesses to the crash told a different version of the events. Nursing student Amy Ione Jones reported that she entered the intersection at the tail end of a yellow light. Because she narrowly avoided entering the intersection on red, she is convinced that the bus that had been stopped in the lane next to her would not have been able to make the light. 

Law professor Bruce Boyer also witnessed the crash and believes that the driver ran a red light. He told the Chicago Reader, “I cannot say with certainty that I saw the color of the [bus driver's] light as she entered the intersection…. But I can attest that when the collision occurred, traffic on southbound Lake Shore Drive had the right of way.”

The Lawsuit

Klingenberg’s father, Walter Klingenberg, filed a wrongful death suit against bus driver, Charla Henry, and TRT Transportation Inc..  Attorney for the Klingenberg family, Brendan Kevenides, stated, “One can only imagine the enormous loss the family feels, and we'll be seeking damages commensurate with the enormous loss for that family.”

Kevenides says that this lawsuit is a way to investigate how the crash happened. “As we have learned from witnesses and as we investigated this matter, the driver seems to have done a lot wrong here, and this seems to have been a very avoidable incident had the bus driver acted with any sense of prudence in the way she operated her bus…. The idea that (Klingenberg) barreled into an intersection without a care is just wrong.”

The lawsuit alleges that the driver disobeyed a red light, drove at a speed that was greater than reasonable, was careless and negligent, failed to avoid hitting a cyclist, failed to keep adequate lookout while driving the bus and failed to exercise care and caution. The complaint also claims that Walter Klingenberg and his wife and other children have suffered the loss of Klingenberg’s company and society.

The lawsuit is pending in Circuit Court in Cook County, Illinois. 

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