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Lawsuit filed against bus company in crash that killed Seton Hill coach, driver

| Thursday, March 21, 2013, 1:09 p.m.

A Seton Hill University freshman lacrosse player who was seriously injured Saturday when the team's bus crashed on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, killing the coach and bus driver, has sued the Somerset County bus line.

Amanda Michalski, 18, a freshman from Coon Rapids, Minn., filed the civil lawsuit Thursday against Mlaker Transportation Inc. in Allegheny County.

The lawsuit, believed to be the first filed as a result of the crash, seeks unspecified damages against the bus line.

Michalski remains in Penn State Hershey Medical Center, where she is listed in good condition.

The university's lacrosse coach, Kristina Quigley, 30; her unborn son; and bus driver Anthony M. Guaetta, 61, of Johnstown, were killed in the accident. A number of the 20 others on the bus — 19 students and an assistant coach — were injured.

The three-page lawsuit complaint claims that Guaetta “failed to keep the bus under proper control” and “was otherwise negligent and reckless in the operation of the bus” when it crashed into a tree along the toll road in Cumberland County.

An employee who answered the telephone at the charter bus company office in Davidsville said the company would have no comment on the lawsuit.

Michalski is represented by attorneys Shanin Specter and Braden Lepisto of Kline and Specter in Philadelphia. Specter recently won a $105 million civil damage award, the largest ever in Allegheny County, for a Hempfield family against West Penn Power Co. in Greensburg in connection with an electrocution.

“This is the latest in a long series of tragic and preventable bus accidents, requiring top to bottom review and reform of bus safety practices,” Specter said.

Specter noted the accident is among many tragedies involving buses in recent months, including crashes of carriers in the Syracuse and Boston areas.

A charter bus carrying high school students home to the Philadelphia area after a visit to Harvard University crashed on Feb. 2 when it tried to pass under a bridge in Boston, injuring more than 30 people, several seriously, and leaving some trapped inside for hours, according to press reports.

Last month, a tour bus collision in southern California resulted in eight deaths and dozens of injuries.

In the Seton Hill tragedy, Quigley and Guaetta died of multiple traumatic injuries, according to autopsies.

Quigley's unborn son, Jackson, died of blood loss, the coroner said.

Toxicology tests for Guaetta are pending.

A state police report showed he was wearing his lap and shoulder belt.

State police are still investigating and have not determined what caused the tour bus to veer off the roadway, turnpike police said.

Police said the bus was traveling east when it left the roadway, hit an emergency call box and guardrail, then traveled 75 yards before smashing into a tree, a mile east of the Carlisle interchange.

The women's lacrosse team was en route to a game against Millersville University.

The case was filed in Allegheny County because the charter company does business there, according to the suit.

Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or ppeirce@tribweb.com.

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