Bus suit settled

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By Jamie Baker-Nantz

Toni Wood won’t get to see her son Daniel graduate with his class this spring, but she believes he didn’t die in vain.

“He was awesome,” she said, of her 16-year-old son who died when the Pendleton County school bus he was riding was hit by a dump truck on Ky. 22 near the Grant/Pendleton County line in May 2008.

Her other two children were passengers on the bus.

“He was very much loved and missed,” she said, through tears. “He was my son, but also my best friend.”

The Wood family settled their lawsuit with XXL Trucking of West Liberty, Ky. for an undisclosed amount.

“The settlement is an end of a really bad part of my life, one that I need to close the book on and find some kind of peace to move forward,” Wood said.

Wood and the residents of surrounding communities became activists and advocates for a lower speed limit following the deadly crash, as well as improvements to make the road safer.

More than 3,500 signatures were gathered asking the speed limit to be lowered. Messages warning truck drivers to slow down on the 14-mile stretch of road could be found in yards and on a billboard that featured Daniel’s photo.

Their efforts paid off when Gov. Steve Beshear honored the request and lowered the speed limit on Ky. 22 to 45 miles per hour.

“I believe several lives have been saved after Daniel’s death,” she said. “I can’t thank everyone enough for standing beside us and helping us get things changed.”

The lobby efforts also resulted in the transportation department spending more than $100,000 to build up shoulders along parts of the road that have steep drop offs. They also cut and trimmed trees and bushes that hampered visibility.

“We’re confident that lives have been saved because of what happened to Daniel,” said Wood’s attorney, Phil Taliafero.