Jury denies Hatfield hay ride operator damages from 2006 West Springfield crash
NORTHAMPTON — A Hampshire Superior Court jury Tuesday found that a Pioneer Valley Transit Authority bus driver was not negligent in a 2006 crash involving a horse-drawn wagon in West Springfield.
Alfred Tetrault of Hatfield filed suit against the PVTA claiming the driver, who was never identified, “spooked” the horses, causing them to run down the street, crashing the wagon into a stop sign. The bus and wagon did not collide.
Tetrault, 69, suffered nine broken ribs, a broken collarbone, cuts and bruises and a head injury after being thrown from the wagon, according to his attorney, Earlon Seeley III.
Tetrault was seeking damages of at least $116,000 in medical costs from the PVTA, according to court records.
Also on the wagon were 15 students and two teachers from the Philip G. Coburn Elementary School in West Springfield, none of whom were seriously hurt.
According to court records, witnesses maintain a bus approached the wagon on its right side while it was traveling south on Elm Street in West Springfield about 2 p.m. Oct. 27, 2006.
Witnesses claimed the bus swerved, “spooking” the horses, causing them to break into a gallop, crashing the wagon.
According to the PVTA’s attorney, John Ross III, in addition to the driver never being identified, there was no evidence the PVTA had a bus operating in that area at the time of the crash.
The accident occurred about 40 minutes after the last PVTA bus on that route was scheduled to return to the bus depot, according to testimony from a pre-trial hearing in February 2012.
The trail began May 6.
Bob Dunn can be reached at email@example.com.