Three Hospitalized in Iowa Coach Bus Crash

Mar 20, 2020 7:05 PM ET

Three residents of North Iowa were sent to the hospital with multiple injuries after a coach bus ran into a car in Clear Lake on February 13th, 2020. The accident happened around 2:30 pm at the intersection of 27th Avenue South and South 8th Street, which is located on Clear Lake’s southern limits.

Bus Driver Found Negligent

The 2019 Forest River bus was being driven by Melferd Leverne Torkelson, 69, on 27th Avenue South. He struck the side of a 2014 Ford Focus after failing to obey the stop sign at the South Eighth Street intersection.

19 year old Brandi Jane Pals of Clear Lake was driving the Ford Focus southbound on 8th Street when the crash occurred. Torkelson, Pals, and 32 year-old Shaina Brunsvold were taken to MercyOne North Iowa in Mason City for immediate medical attention.

Pals was later transported to Mayo Clinic in Rochester owing to extensive injuries.

Not the First Accident

This is not the first time for an accident to occur at the 27th Avenue South intersection. There have been as many as 5 fatal accidents on this intersection since 2009 as per records from Iowa DOT’s ICAT (Iowa Crash Analysis Tool).

David Okerlund, a witness to the accident, claimed that the intersection has a lot of heavy traffic. Close calls are almost a daily occurrence with the amount of traffic east-west and north and south bound. The problem does not get alleviated with the presence of early morning deer.

Okerlund stated that more safety features, like two stop signs on 27th Avenue or rumble strips can be installed to make the intersection safer for everybody.

Mason City Fire and Ambulance, Iowa State Patrol, Clear Lake Police Department, and Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s office responded to the accident.

Common Causes of Bus Accidents in Iowa

Generally, commercial bus accidents result from mechanical failures, maintenance defects, air brake failures, tire failures, and wheel failures. These are different from the ones caused by impaired, inattentive, and incompetent bus operators. Victims require a dedicated coach accident attorney to navigate through the various causes.

Common types of negligence include:

Lack of training
Negligent hiring
Hours of service violations
Drunk driving
Driving while fatigued
Bus defect or malfunction
Excessive speed
Lack of bus maintenance
Distracted driver

It is imperative to identify the right cause so as to pin the blame on all parties that may have been responsible – drivers, mechanics, bus companies, and others. It can be difficult to determine the liability in bus crashes without the expertise of coach accident lawyers. Legal training and experience is necessary to investigate these types of cases.

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