Updated January 25, 2022 - 6:51 am
The parents of a boy who died and a girl who was critically injured after they were struck by a pickup in a North Las Vegas crosswalk have filed suit against the city and others.
Twelve-year-old Alexander Bush died and his sister Charlotte was critically injured as they walked home from school at Somerset Academy’s Losee Campus in February 2020. Charlotte, who was 9 at the time of the crash, faces lifelong disabilities.
The lawsuit, filed by attorney Farhan Naqvi on behalf of parents Aaron and Jennifer Bush, alleged that Somerset Academy and the city were responsible for the children’s safety.
“The crosswalk was in a dangerous condition for use,” according to the lawsuit, which pointed to “insufficient warning lights, no school zone signs, no speed limit signs, no crossing guards and inadequate markings.”
The driver of the pickup, Mark Kline, 49, pleaded no contest in February 2021 to vehicular manslaughter and other misdemeanors in the crash. North Las Vegas police said Kline told officers he was distracted by a GPS device when the children were hit.
The complaint filed last week names as defendants Kline, the city of North Las Vegas, Somerset Academy, the Nevada State Public Charter School Authority and several others. The city’s spokesman, Patrick Walker, declined comment on the lawsuit Monday saying it is a pending legal matter. Court records do not list a civil attorney for Kline in the case.
Nevada State Public Charter School Authority officials declined to comment.
Others named in the suit either could not be reached or did not respond to requests for comment.
Aaron Bush declined to comment Monday, and Naqvi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
After the crash, students at Somerset’s Losee campus told the Las Vegas Review-Journal the crosswalk was unsafe. They described the crosswalk as having inadequate, hard-to-see lighting, faded road markings and no crossing guards.
The crosswalk is located some 100 yards east of the intersection of Lone Mountain and Losee roads where there are traffic lights.
Much of the stretch of Losee Road in front of the academy is a marked school zone with flashing lights and a 15 mph speed limit. At the time the children were struck Lone Mountain was not a marked school zone and there were no signs displaying the 35 mph speed limit within roughly a half-mile in either direction.
After the crash, crossing guards started working at the crosswalk.
Kline pleaded no contest in February 2021 to failure to use due care around a pedestrian, failure to pay full time and attention to driving, failure to maintain lane/improper lane change and vehicular manslaughter.
His sentence included 120 days of house arrest; a 60-day suspended jail sentence for no less than a year; about 200 hours of community service; and more than $2,200 in fines and assessments. He was ordered to complete traffic safety school and a victim impact panel.
Advocates for change
The suit lists multiple claims for negligence and wrongful death and seeks compensation of more than $15,000.
Since the tragedy, Aaron and Jennifer Bush said they’ve become advocates for stiffening Nevada’s laws for distracted driving.
“Pretty much everything that we knew and worked for is gone,” Jennifer Bush told the Review-Journal in a 2021 interview.
In Nevada, a first offense for distracted driving carries a $50 fine. Vehicular manslaughter is a misdemeanor charge that carries a maximum penalty of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 for a first-time offender.
The couple is also advocating for increased awareness about the importance of being an organ donor. Aaron Bush said donation of his son’s organs, skin and bone helped more than 300 people across the globe. On New Year’s Day, Alexander Bush’s donations were honored on a float in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.
“We didn’t have a choice in whether Alex lived or died,” Aaron Bush said in a recent interview with the newspaper. “The decision to donate Alex’s organs came easily to us because of the kind of kid Alex was. He loved to help people. He loved to make people feel good. You’d be hard-pressed to find an older brother who was so kind to his younger sister.”
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