New video released in 2021 Pace bus crash that killed woman after driver fell asleep at the wheel
CHICAGO - The family of a Pace bus passenger who was killed after a bus driver fell asleep at the wheel and crashed in 2021 will receive a $13 million settlement.
Brenda Burse, 68, relied on Pace paratransit service to get around and was on her way home from church when she was killed.
"She was an awesome mom, and I love her and I appreciate her and all she has done, and it hurts," said Amelia Burse, Brenda Burse’s daughter.
The tragic accident unfolded nearly two years ago in the 5500 block of West Lexington Street, but now, never-before-seen footage has been released.
In a civil lawsuit, attorneys for the family alleged that Pace and SCR Medical Transportation knowingly put a dangerous driver on the road.
"On August 15, 2021, Pace bus service and its subcontractor SCR Medical Transportation violated the public trust," said Marc Taxman, attorney with Taxman, Pollock, Murray & Bekkerman Law Offices.
Dash camera video from the bus shows the bus driver, Joe McKee, falling asleep behind the wheel, crossing lanes of oncoming traffic, leaving the roadway and barreling into a tree at 40 miles an hour.
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Burse, the only passenger, died from her injuries.
Attorneys representing Burse's family said both Pace and SCR Medical Transportation knew McKee had sleep apnea.
The driver had also been suspended three months prior for falling asleep behind the wheel — yet was allowed to return to work.
"He had fallen asleep before behind the wheel on May 15, 2021, exactly three months before this tragic occurrence. And during the three months that he was only suspended, not fired or disqualified, he was immediately put back on the road on July 29, 2021, without any system in place to monitor whether his condition of apnea was being treated, whether the treatment was effective," said Taxman.
Taxman also stated that McKee admitted to investigators that he was up late the night before the crash partying, where he consumed alcohol and did cocaine.
McKee, Pace and SCR Medical Transportation are all named as defendants in the $13 million settlement order.
Brenda's husband, Willie, of 53 years who rushed to the scene when tragedy struck said his wife loved to cook and lived for her faith.
"She was a church-going woman, she loved church," said Willie Burse.
Now, Brenda’s daughter, Amelia, said she is speaking out in hopes no one else will ever have to experience the same tragedy.
"I'm looking forward to seeing that they take it very seriously when it comes to individuals' lives, that their safety does matter," said Amelia Burse.
According to the Burse family's attorneys, McKee was fired by Pace and SCR.
While McKee received traffic violations, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office stated that it reviewed the evidence, but "concluded that the evidence was insufficient to meet our burden of proof to approve felony charges" against McKee.
Pace released a statement to FOX 32 Chicago, stating that it "extends its sincere condolences to the family of Mrs. Burse."
SCR Medical Transportation released the following statement to FOX 32 Chicago on Monday night: "SCR and its agents hold responsibility for the settlement and not Pace."
Pace confirms that its subcontractor, SCR Medical Transportation, will be taking financial responsibility for paying the $13 million settlement.