The father of a 14-year-old Lodi High School student who died while walking to school last fall has filed a civil lawsuit against Lodi Unified School District and the city of Lodi.
Andrew Prieto’s attorney is seeking damages for the victim’s sister, who was seriously injured and who witnessed the fatal vehicle Sept. 10, 2010, accident.
The girls were on their way to a district bus stop in Acampo in the early hours of the morning when they crossed a frontage road and one was struck by a vehicle.
Although attorney John O’Brien has filed a formal lawsuit, it will be months before an outcome is decided either way, he said.
“We’re in the discovery phase; the process takes six or eight months,” he said. “It’s long and tedious, and we’ll have a better idea of the case after that.”
LUSD Superintendent Cathy Nichols-Washer said the district is saddened by the tragedy but is not at liberty to discuss the claim.
Brianne “Nikki” Prieto died when she was struck by a vehicle along the Highway 99 East Frontage Road just north of Woodbridge Road.
Prieto and her older sister were walking along the road, where there are no sidewalks on the wider path furthest from the highway, when they crossed over to look at something on the other side of the road, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The younger student was hit on her way back and died from her injuries. Her sister, then 15, suffered injuries to her legs, arms, spinal column and nervous system, according to the claim.
The accident happened around 5:40 a.m., when it was still dark. The girls were on their way to Houston School to catch the bus.
At the beginning of last school year, the LUSD Transportation Department eliminated dozens of rural bus stops to save money. The stops eliminated included those that provided door-to-door service from a student’s residence to their school.
Former routes included stops along the frontage road where Prieto was hit. But the district said at the time Houston School was not one of the new hub stops under scrutiny by the public, and had always served rural students attending school within city limits.
One of the issues in the lawsuit will be determining what made the district change its decisions regarding transportation, O’Brien said.
News-Sentinel staff writer Jordan Guinn contributed to this report.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.