Local News

Chapel Hill man's family wins $18M judgment after fatal charter bus crash

Posted March 26, 2015
Updated March 27, 2015

Doval Emmanuel Watson

— Jurors on Thursday awarded $18 million to the estate of a Chapel Hill man who was killed in a charter bus crash two years ago.

The bus was on its way to Hampton University's Open House Day on April 5, 2013, when it overturned in southeastern Virginia.

Doval Emmanuel Watson died from injuries suffered in the wreck. The 58-year-old was a Hampton alumnus who was a chaperone on the annual trip.

A wrongful death lawsuit, which went to trial Monday, sought $52 million, but lawyers for Horizon Coach Lines told the jury in closing arguments Thursday morning that they shouldn't have to pay more than $1 million.

Watson's attorney, Willie Gary, called the jury award fair.

"We all have to go, but he had 40,000 pounds of steel crush him," Gary said. "He was crushed to death. I think the jury wanted to say to the family that we understand."

The lawsuit contended that driver Larry Brocks lost control of the bus while reaching for some water.

Brocks, 62, of Raleigh, who was charged with reckless driving, testified Wednesday that he had wished numerous times over the past two years that he, not Watson, died in the wreck. He also apologized to Watson's family.

Watson's wife, Theresa Watson, was also a chaperone on the trip and suffered serious injuries in the crash. The six high school students making the trip weren't hurt.


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  • Todd Jenkins Mar 27, 2015
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    Sue Money. Attorney's got 6 million. There must be a big insurance policy in place or the attorney would not have gone for it because the bus company would declare bankruptcy.

  • Timmy Strickland Mar 27, 2015
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    They will never see that money

  • Angie Cox Mar 27, 2015
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    $52 million how greedy. Accidents happen people, that's why they are called accidents! it's not going to bring your loved one back. I just don't get it except greed.

  • Peter Panda Mar 26, 2015
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    $18 mill is ridiculousness

  • Alexia Proper Mar 26, 2015
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    One cannot put value on a life, but $18M sounds like an awful lot for an accident. Really, that's just not right. And I bet those folks call themselves Christians on Sunday morning.

  • Bill Sorenson Mar 26, 2015
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    The death is tragic but 18 million isn't about fairness. Its about a ridiculous judgement and the man's family seeking a payday on his death. Pathetic IMHO!