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N.J. Woman Awarded $4M in Old Bridge Bus Crash Lawsuit

By Spencer Kent | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

OLD BRIDGE — A woman who was left permanently disabled after a school bus rear-ended a commuter bus in 2013 received a $4 million payout from a settlement reached in a lawsuit.

Christine Carhuff, 36, of Freehold, who was a passenger on the commuter bus, filed a lawsuit in the summer of 2013 against the school bus’ owner, the Old Bridge Board of Education.

The driver of the school bus and the commuter bus were also named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Old Bridge Township and the company of the commuter bus will each pay $2 million, according to Carhuff’s attorney, Andrew John Calcagno. Old Bridge must pay by March and Academy must pay by April.

There was no admission of wrongdoing or liability in the settlement.

“I advised both defendants that if they did not pay the $4 million that we were picking a jury (for a trial),” Calcagno said.

The crash happened during the height of the morning traffic rush on Jan. 10, 2013.

According to previous reports, the bus was owned by Academy. However, as part of the settlement, the company was not named as part of a confidentiality agreement.

The commuter bus, which was carrying about 30 people, rear-ended the 24-seat school bus, causing it to smash into a tree and throw passengers from their seats. No children were on board the school bus at the time.

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The crash — which was captured on video by a camera video from the commuter bus — caused the school bus, driven by Tracy Dehart, to flip over and hit a generator and pumping station off the highway, leaving her and a school aide with minor injuries.

The lawsuit alleged that the driver of the commuter bus, Daniel Jean-Pierre, of Barnegat, was negligent in the crash by failing to maintain control of the vehicle. Jean-Pierre also suffered serious injuries in the incident, officials said at the time.

Carhuff was permanently disabled from the crash after sustaining multiple fractures and injuries to her neck, shoulder, lower back, leg and ankle, requiring multiple surgeries, according to Calcagno.

Calcagno said his client was pleased with the outcome of the settlement.

“Christine is very happy she has finality and that she will have enough money to support herself for the rest of her life,” Calcagno said.

Jean-Pierre’s attorney, Jack A. Maloof, declined to comment on the matter. Attorneys representing the township’s Board of Education and school bus driver did not return a call seeking comment.

Township Mayor Owen Henry and the Old Bridge Board of Education were also unavailable for comment.

Spencer Kent may be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @SpencerMKent. Find the Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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