Chapel Hill man's family wins $18M judgment after fatal charter bus crash
Posted March 26, 2015
Updated March 27, 2015
Durham, N.C. — 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.