A look inside the Greyhound crash verdict

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
A look inside the Greyhound crash verdict
The saga surrounding the deadly 2010 Greyhound bus crash in Fresno may have come to a close Tuesday afternoon.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The saga surrounding the deadly 2010 Greyhound bus crash in Fresno may have come to a close Tuesday afternoon. A jury sided with the bus company in a lawsuit filed by the families of three young women who were killed in the crash, including one the CHP blamed for the entire incident.

The mother shared hugs after the verdict and then the families left. They lost the case, but seem to have gained friends with a similar experience.

Stern faces are all we saw as Victor and Olga Garay left court. Five years earlier, their daughter died after her SUV rolled over and got hit by a Greyhound bus. Four years earlier, a CHP investigation said Sylvia Garay was driving drunk and put all the blame on her for causing the crash that killed six.

Five weeks earlier, their attorneys set out to prove the investigation wrong.

Jason Helsel argued that video from earlier in the night showed Vanessa Gonzalez was driving, Sylvia was in the passenger seat, and Stephanie Cordoba was in the back. He said it seemed unlikely that the sober Gonzalez would later hand over the keys to Garay, who was legally drunk. He also said the bus driver was speeding and wasn't wearing his required glasses.

But Greyhound attorneys argued physical evidence pointed to Gonzalez as a passenger -- meaning Garay was driving. Even if it was true, it was meaningless. The jury agreed with Greyhound on a 10-2 vote, but didn't stick around to explain their choice.

"Whether they think Ms. Garay was the driver or others, I think the evidence was compelling that she was, but we don't know that from the jury's determination. The only thing we know from the jury's determination is Greyhound wasn't negligent," said Dana Fox, Greyhound attorney.

For the Garays and the other families, the verdict was a worst case scenario. But their attorneys say they have all grown closer during the trial, sharing a common enemy and a common grief. And even though they lost, the Garays accomplished an important goal: they got to tell a different story about their daughter that convinced at least a couple people.

"That was their whole intention with this case is just to try and vindicate their daughter so that their daughter's legacy isn't you know, that drunk driver that cause an accident that killed six people," said Jason Helsel, Garay family attorney.

The attorneys said they spent more than 1,500 hours and $100,000 battling Greyhound. The bus company doesn't leave unscathed either. It settled with nearly all the passengers on the bus, paying into the millions on some of those cases.