Folks in the Los Angeles area were just recovering from the horror of five nurses burning to death in the rear of a rented limousine when their terrified screams for help to 911 were heard over their cell phones. Although the grisly affair has thus far been labeled an unfortunate accident, there remains the issue of lack of repair to the death trap of a vehicle.
The dangerous condition of property has now been defined by the investigators. They concluded that the suspension and axle travel stops for the differential failed, allowing the spinning driveshaft to rub directly underneath the floor panel. The heat, and possibly sparks, generated from the friction ignited the materials covering the floorboard, the accident reconstruction report concluded. Tragically, those materials were the carpet in the backseat, where the nurses were trapped by locked doors and a driver playing music so loudly he misunderstood the cries signaling smoke for a woman asking to light up a cigarette.
So far all that has happened is that the Public Utilities Commission is fining the limo operator $1,500 for having more passengers than allowed.
Meanwhile, more aggravating factors keep emerging. The limo driver who easily exited the doomed vehicle, testified that after he got out he tried to call 911, but it was busy. Meanwhile, one of the surviving passengers luckily situated in the front of the vehicle, charged that the driver continued to hold the phone to his ear and made no effort to open or go back and release the doors holding prisoner the doomed women in the rear of the long vehicle.
With five nurses dead, one celebrating her forthcoming wedding, safety experts are out in force, asking such questions as why such a vehicle would have this type of suspension failure and why a limousine would have so many flammable materials in it?
You can be sure that plaintiff attorneys will be asking the very same questions.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Bay Area limousine fire that killed 5 was accidental, officials say" Maria L. La Ganga, Aug. 19, 2013