Families of Bluffton University students killed in horrific crash urge improved bus safety

The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- It was David Betts' bus seat that convinced his father something had to be done.

John Betts last saw his son, a 20-year-old Bluffton University baseball player, in an Atlanta morgue in March 2007.

David, a sophomore, was there along with four teammates killed after their bus was flung off a highway overpass when their driver mistook an exit ramp for another lane.

Then Betts went to see the bus.

His son's seat on the motorcoach was firmly bolted down, practically unscathed.

At David's funeral, he promised the other families, and David's bruised and battered teammates, "Some good will come of this."

Betts' aunt, Pam Bryan, says that her brother John won't rest until legislation is passed to make buses, like the one his son died on, safer. She told his story Sunday at a news conference with U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown at the Greyhound Bus Station on Chester Avenue.

Bryan urged the public to push for the legislation that would require new buses to have seat belts and other safety improvements and to ensure that bus carriers follow standard procedures to prevent driver fatigue. Federal transportation authorities say driver fatigue causes almost 40 percent of accidents they investigate.

Brown, a Democrat, authored the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, which is co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas. He first introduced the legislation in 2008 but until this year failed to gain enough traction. The bill recently passed out of a committee and now awaits a full Senate vote.

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