Student’s Family Alleges Negligence Against School District, Bus Driver

Richland School District faces a lawsuit filed by Trinity Enriquez’s family. The Chief Joseph Middle School Student sustained injuries on October 22, 2021, after being dropped off at a bus stop.

Trinity was hit by a pickup truck on Route 31 near Spengler Street and Hood Avenue. She crossed behind the school bus, meaning the driver did not see the accident and drove off before the impact. Seven other students also crossed the street. There is no crosswalk in that area.

The lawsuit claims the school district and bus driver had legal obligations to ensure Trinity’s safety. Washington law requires the bus driver and school district to “make every reasonable effort to ensure that they cross safely and that they pass in front of the school bus and never behind the school bus.”

Jenny Garcia, the bus driver and defendant, allegedly breached this duty when she allowed students to cross the street behind the bus.  Attorneys are investigating whether Garcia received proper training regarding drop-off and pick-up procedures at school bus stops. She remains employed as a bus driver for the school district.

The pickup driver, James Koester, is also named a defendant in the lawsuit. It alleges Koester failed to look out for pedestrians, road conditions, and traffic. After the impact, he indicated that he did not see Trinity, which attorneys argue establishes his liability.  They submitted information to the prosecutor’s office to investigate criminal charges, but the office declined to prosecute Koester.

The accident is part of significant safety concerns regarding students and bus stops. Trinity is the fifth student hit by a car in the last three years. Her family hopes the lawsuit helps more people be aware of the risk associated with school bus crossings.

The lawsuit seeks reimbursement for past and future medical bills, pain and suffering, and other costs. Trinity spent 45 days in a Spokane hospital undergoing treatment for serious injuries, including head trauma. She is expected to make a full recovery, although she still faces difficulties from head injuries. Trinity’s aunt, Zayna Kinsey, started a GoFundMe to help pay for medical costs.