Although a party bus driver insists she properly latched a door from which a Kansas woman fell to her death, Kansas Highway Patrol troopers said in an investigative report released this week they doubted that was possible.
Jamie Frecks, 26, was one of 16 women celebrating a bachelorette party in May when she tumbled out the side of a 1999 wheelchair van-turned-party bus. The new mother then was struck by an undetermined number of vehicles.
The driver, who was licensed properly and not impaired by drugs or alcohol, told troopers that when she picked up the group that night at a bar, she opened those double doors so the women could load a cooler. She said that she then latched the doors from outside and pushed on them to make sure they were shut, The Kansas City Star reported.
Troopers spent a significant amount of time examining those doors and attempting to push them open while latched, according to the patrol’s 51-page report. They noted that opening the doors from inside was difficult and would have had to be “very intentional.”
Even with the doors not properly latched, troopers noted that it took about five pushes to get them to open.
“It still took some effort to get it to come open, but based on investigating troopers’ opinions, if the door was properly latched … it would have not opened on its own or with minimal pressure,” according to the report.
Although the Wyandotte County prosecutor has determined that there is insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges, several lawsuits have been filed against the driver and the bus company owners.
The driver said she didn’t know anything was wrong until she heard a “big bang” and riders began yelling for her to pull over. The driver said she could not see the back of the bus, but “someone” told her Frecks had been leaning on the door before she fell.
But only one passenger mentioned anything to troopers about Frecks leaning, and that woman said she was not sure if Frecks had been leaning on the door before it “popped open and she fell out.”
Another witness said: “The doors popped open and Jamie was immediately sucked out of the door.”
Two others also used the term “sucked out” to describe what they saw. Another said she “flew out.”