Trucking company sued in fiery Georgia crash that killed 5

AP News
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Posted: Apr 30, 2015 3:49 PM

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The mother of one of five nursing students killed in a Georgia highway crash last week has sued the trucking company that employed the driver suspected of causing the fiery collision.

A wrongful death lawsuit filed in Bryan County State Court seeks monetary damages against Total Transportation of Mississippi and its parent company, Tennessee-based U.S. Xpress Enterprises, for the death of 21-year-old Abbie Deloach of Savannah. The civil suit was filed Wednesday on behalf of her mother, Kim Deloach McQuaig.

"She's a compassionate, forgiving person," McQuaig's attorney, Mark Tate, said Thursday. "This is not about revenge. This not about an eye for an eye. This is about the appropriate way to resolve problems between parties."

Deloach and four fellow nursing students from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro were traveling to Savannah, where they were wrapping up clinical training for the school year, when they died April 22 in a chain-reaction crash on Interstate 16.

The Georgia State Patrol has said a tractor-trailer failed to slow down for stop-and-go traffic backed up by an unrelated wreck. The big truck smashed into two vehicles in which the nursing students were carpooling, causing one of the cars to burst into flames. Seven total vehicles were damaged in the crash.

The tractor-trailer was registered to Total Transportation. The driver has not been charged, and he was not named as a defendant in McQuaig's civil lawsuit.

"If we thought there were criminal actions — that he was under the influence or texting or driving for an excessive number of hours — we would have named him" in the lawsuit, Tate said. "It's not really for me to get completely into, but I know that he is absolutely, deeply remorseful."

Total Transportation CEO John Stomps declined to comment Thursday on the lawsuit. He said the company is cooperating with State Patrol investigators.

"Our thoughts and our prayers are still with these victims and these families as well as the Georgia Southern community," Stomps said.

The State Patrol has said it could take several months to finish its investigation of the crash and decide whether to bring criminal charges against the tractor-trailer driver. The agency's initial incident report was still not available Thursday, eight days after the collision.

In addition to Deloach, the crash also killed Emily E. Clark, 20, of Powder Springs; Morgan J. Bass, 20, of Leesburg; Catherine M. Pittman, 21, of Alpharetta; and Caitlyn N. Baggett, 21, of Millen. Georgia Southern officials said all were nursing students in their junior year.