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June 06 2007 - Chicago school bus driver had 12 drinks before fatal crash

 The school bus driver who struck an SUV on a South Side street last month, resulting in the death of a pedestrian, had had 12 drinks within six hours prior to the crash, a lawsuit filed Tuesday claims.

The lawsuit, filed by Joann Gipson on behalf of the estate of Antoine Bolden, the man killed in the accident, alleges bus driver Jerry Moncrease started drinking at 5 a.m. on May 21. The suit says Moncrease "consumed approximately six shots of liquor prior to going to work and driving schoolchildren with special needs on his bus."

He picked up the children at 6 a.m., and dropped them off at school, the suit says.

Between the time he dropped the children off at school and 10:55 a.m., when the accident occurred, the suit claims "Moncrease additionally consumed six cans of beer."

About 10:55 a.m., Bolden, a pedestrian, was at the intersection of Wentworth Avenue and Garfield Boulevard when the bus, driven by Moncrease, collided with a Ford Explorer that was headed northbound on Wentworth.

Bolden, according to the suit, "was struck in turn by the Ford Explorer that had been struck by the bus driven by Jerry Moncrease, and/or by the bus itself."

Bolden, who the suit says had two sons and a daughter -- all minors -- died of his injuries.

Moncrease was charged with reckless homicide, aggravated DUI and driving 30 mph over the speed limit, according to police. He also was cited for damaging public property and disobeying a red light.

The suit alleges Moncrease "operated his school bus with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property," drove too fast, failed to decrease the speed of the bus in order to avoid a collision, and failed to give an audible warning to pedestrians or other vehicles with his horn.

The suit also names Bryden Transportation, which Moncrease worked for, as a defendant. Bryden allegedly failed to supervise Moncrease, failed to test him for alcohol and/or drugs "based upon a reasonable suspicion," and failed to stop him from driving while intoxicated and being a danger to others.

The suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, seeks unspecified damages. The suit does not state the relationship between Gipson and Bolden.
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