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2 Seton Hill lacrosse players sue over bus crash that killed coach

| Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, 1:54 p.m.

Two more Seton Hill University lacrosse players who were injured last year in a bus crash along the Pennsylvania Turnpike that killed their pregnant coach and bus driver have filed suit against a Somerset County bus company.

Players Abigail Shaughness of New Windsor, Md., and Siiri Mason of Oxford, Mich., who sued Mlaker Transportation Inc. of Davidsville, are seeking unspecified damages.

The players allege they suffered multiple injuries and concussions in the March 16 crash and continue to suffer “mental pain,” “embarrassment” and “humiliation” as a result of the accident.

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

The separate four-page lawsuits filed in Allegheny Common Pleas Court claim that Guaetta failed to keep the charter bus under proper control and was negligent and reckless in its operation.

“Mr. Guaetta was inattentive, distracted, repeatedly drove on the right shoulder of the highway and failed to keep the vehicle under proper control” when it crashed into a tree along the toll road in Cumberland County, the lawsuits allege.

At the time of the crash, Shaughness was a junior and Mason a sophomore on the team, according to its roster. Both are represented by attorneys Shanin Specter and Braden Lepisto of Kline and Specter in Philadelphia, who also represent another lacrosse player. Amanda Michalski, 19, a freshman from Coon Rapids, Minn., filed a civil lawsuit seeking unspecified damages and medical expenses last spring. Michalski suffered extensive injuries and was hospitalized for several weeks in Hershey Medical Center.

In October, the estate of Kristina and Jackson Quigley of Baltimore filed a civil lawsuit in Allegheny County seeking unspecified damages against Guaetta's estate and the bus company.

The lawsuit was filed by Quigley's husband, Glenn, and her 3-year-old son, Gavin, according to court documents. That lawsuit maintains Guaetta was negligent and there were signs he was having trouble during the trip.

“While proceeding to transport his passengers to a lacrosse game at Millersville University, Anthony M. Guaetta, repeatedly left the roadway with the bus and repeatedly hit the rumble strips along the side of the highway, awaking numerous lacrosse players who had been sleeping. Anthony M. Guaetta did not ask for a replacement driver and did not pull the bus over and park it after having to back it up on the highway due to missing a turn,” the lawsuit alleges.

In addition to pain and suffering through the loss of two lives, that lawsuit seeks damages for support and earnings Quigley made and would have continued to make throughout her life ... “for the loss to the widower of consortium, society comfort, companionship and direction ... for loss to minor child of companionship, comfort, society guidance, tutelage, moral upbringing,” the lawsuit states.

The Quigleys' lawsuit was filed by attorney John Linkosky of Carnegie.

The bus company did not return calls seeking comment.

In December, state police said an eight-month investigation determined Guaetta may have suffered a medical emergency before the crash.

Trooper Robert Hicks said physical evidence indicates that Guaetta was unconscious when the bus crashed at 8:50 a.m. Speed was ruled out as a factor in the crash and no mechanical defects to the bus that would have contributed were found.

“All of the physical evidence is consistent with that of a crash involving an unconscious driver,” Hicks said.

The bus veered off the eastbound lanes of the turnpike and hit a call box and a guardrail before smashing into a tree, about one mile east of the Carlisle interchange.

Hicks said a reconstruction of the crash showed the bus driver made no attempt to brake and the tires were “freely rolling” the entire time the bus veered off the highway.

Evidence showed that the rear tires tracked on the tire marks of the front tires, “which indicates that there was no attempt by the driver to steer,” Hicks said.

That information, paired with an autopsy report, led investigators to conclude that Guaetta fell unconscious.

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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