Hetty Chang, Bobbie Eng
A woman who says she was badly injured while riding a double-decker Starline tour bus filed a lawsuit against the company Wednesday, one week after a fatal accident where a teen slammed his head against a concrete overpass while riding a Starline tour bus. Hetty Chang reports for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. from Hollywood Wednesday, July 16, 2014.
A woman who claims she fractured her skull and eye socket while on an open-roof Starline Tours bus filed suit against the company Wednesday, days after a Manhattan Beach teen died while on one of the company's double-decker buses.
Lauren Guerra, 35, said she was hurt Oct. 27, 2013, when she "stood up at the wrong time" and was hit in the eye with a large tree branch.
"Pretty much everybody who was invited on the bus was on the top of the bus, beyond seating capacity," Guerra said. "There were times when people had to duck under branches. I stood up at the wrong time and I got taken out at about 45 miles an hour by a rather large tree branch that shattered the bottom of my eye socket and also damaged the lower muscle of my eye."
Guerra's lawsuit comes after Mason Zisette (pictured), 16, died July 12 from injuries he suffered when he hit a San Diego (405) Freeway overpass while riding Starline bus chartered for a private party a few days earlier.
A witness told NBC4 that the teen may have been dancing on a seat cushion with his back to the freeway signs when his head and hands slammed into the sign while the bus was traveling 45 mph. He then collapsed on the floor, the witness said.
"It's not OK this is happening, and Mason's death could have been prevented if Starline had taken what happened to me seriously and trained their drivers," Guerra said. "It would have taken maybe a five-minute discussion with everyone that got on the bus to let them know it's not safe to be standing on top of the bus."
Guerra is seeking unspecified damages and is calling for the company's drivers to warn passengers not to stand up on their open-roof buses, in addition to signs aboard the buses warning passengers to keep hands and arms inside the vehicle.
"We got on the bus and that was it, nothing else," Guerra said. "We were never told not to stand on the top ... Please know that if you are on the top of the bus, there is a possibility of getting hurt, possibly killed."
Starline Tours has declined to comment in both incidents.