UConn and Connecticut to pay $5.5 million in lawsuit settlement
Parents of student killed by university shuttle bus will receive compensation
Published: Friday, September 13, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 13, 2013 00:09
George and Linda Plamondon, parents of a former UConn student who was killed when struck by a university shuttle bus in 2011, have received $5.5 million in a lawsuit with UConn and the state of Connecticut.
David Plamondon was hit while using the crosswalk at the intersection of Alumni Drive and Hillside Road on March 22, 2011. The pre-med student from Westminster, Mass. was 20 years old.
The driver of the bus was UConn student Lukasz Gilewski, 21, of Newington. Gilewski failed to see Plamondon as he waved to a fellow bus driver. Plamondon was run over by the front and rear tires of the bus, killing him instantly.
Gilewski’s status as a state employee held Connecticut and the university responsible for the payment of the lawsuit according to the Hartford Courant. While Gilewski pleaded guilty to negligent homicide with a motor vehicle, he was only required to serve two years of probation instead of jail time.
Plamondon’s death sparked controversy regarding the university’s policies allowing students to serve as bus drivers. In the Courant, George and Linda Plamondon’s lawyer stated that the couple said their son’s death would have likely been preventable if a non-student had been driving.
However, UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said that all university bus drivers, of which approximately 81 percent are students, must meet the same qualifications and undergo the identical training before becoming licensed to drive.
All UConn bus drivers are required to be are at least 18 and have held a driver’s license for two years. In addition, a Connecticut commercial driver’s license, at least 30 hours of on-the-road training in a UConn bus, no moving violations and have passed a background check issued by the state sex offender registry.
“The UConn bus drivers also go through additional training to learn the campus routes with a supervisor riding along, and the University has a number of evaluators – whose identities are unknown to the drivers – who regularly ride the buses to monitor drivers’ skills and report to UConn officials,” Reitz said.
While UConn will continue to employ student bus drivers, safety measures have been put in place in an attempt to prevent university transportation-related accidents from occurring. The “Safe Turn Alert” system warns pedestrians as buses are turning and reminds drivers to check both sides of the roadway before making a turn. Such technology was not available at the time of Plamondon’s death.