Family of man killed by Virginia Beach school bus receives $2.5 million settlement

Posted at 5:46 PM, Aug 30, 2016

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A lawsuit against the Virginia Beach School Board has been settled for $2,500,000 after a school bus driver ran over and killed a man, according to court records.

27-year-old Christian Montes' wife sued the Virginia Beach School Board. The legal battle has been going on for over two years.

Montes’ car broke down on October 22, 2013. As he was standing outside of his car, a school bus plowed into him from behind, ending his life.

A family friend told News 3 that Montes was in the Navy and married with two children.  He believes Montes was on the way to work when the accident occurred.

Investigators say they've determined that the bus was going northbound on Holland Road, approaching the intersection of South Independence Blvd.

Montes' Ford Escort, which was disabled at the time, was stopped in the northbound lane of Holland Road.

Gary Byler is the attorney for the Montes family and would not disclose information about the settlement but said, “I would just say that the family was very happy at the end of the day.”

Byler said, “The school board in Virginia Beach took over two years and $100,000 in fees and attorney fees, going on and on and on to get them to come to the table and do the right thing. Zero offer for the first year.”

The lawsuit alleged the driver had vision problems and there had been complaints against him in the past.

News 3 reached out to the Virginia Beach School District. Here is their response:

There will not be anyone from VBCPS available for an interview as the division does not comment on litigation matters. As for the video from the school bus, that was turned over to police for their investigation. Any portion of that video that was not kept by police was considered a student record and therefore not released to the public.

Finally, we will not comment on any information regarding a specific employee, but I can share that nothing in this case required a change in policy for the school division.

The representative with the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office said there was no evidence of a criminal offense, so no charges were filed.

Byler said he had trouble getting a copy of the video taken from inside the school bus the day of the accident.

“The family wanted to know what happened. The city of Virginia Beach refused to give us the tape of what happened inside that bus. Later, we found out it was very telling about what happened in that accident,” said Byler.

The bus was heading to Bayside Health and Science Academy; a specialized program for students who are interested in the medical field, according to Jennifer McCarrel of Virginia Beach City Public Schools. Eleven of the 35 students on the bus were taken to area hospitals, but none of them had serious injuries. They were all between the ages of 15 and 17.

The bus driver was not injured.

Now, the former sailor’s wife and kids will receive a significant settlement as they continue to mourn their loss.

News 3 went to the last known address for the school bus driver. A person living at the home says he's moved to Pennsylvania and would let him know that we were interested in speaking with him.