The parents of a teen who died after hitting his head on a freeway overpass in Inglewood while riding on the upper deck of an open-air, double-decker bus are suing the company.
Matthew and Amy Zisette, the father and mother of Mason G. Zisette, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court against Starline Tours of Hollywood Inc. and several other defendants, including bus driver Jose Barajas Curiel and New Flyer Industries Canada ULC, the manufacturer of the 2000 model bus.
The suit alleges negligence, strict liability and a failure to warn and seeks unspecified damages. A representative for Starline Tours could not be immediately reached.
Mason Zisette, 16, was a varsity tennis player about to enter his junior year at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach. The 6-foot, 2-inch teen was with a group of friends from the South Bay when he hit his head on the Arbor Vitae Street overpass of the San Diego (405) Freeway on July 10.
“After remaining alive long enough to allow donation of most of his vital organs, he died less than two days later on July 12,” the suit states.
The overpass has a vertical clearance of about 15 feet, 1 inch, while the bus is more than 14 feet tall, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint states that Mason Zisette attended a “Sweet 16” party for a longtime friend earlier in the day. He and other guests decided to take a four-hour tour on the bus to see sights around Los Angeles and Hollywood, the suit states.
The bus was making its return trip when the driver entered the freeway at Sunset Boulevard and began traveling south at more than 60 mph, the suit states. Mazon Zisette was on the top deck and was facing north with other passengers who were admiring the sunset at about 7:25 p.m., according to the lawsuit.
There were no adults supervising the youths and no video cameras or signs to warn riders of the potential danger to them, the suit states.
“This recipe for disaster resulted in the back of Mason’s head impacting the … overpass in Inglewood near LAX,” the suit states. “Mason suffered a traumatic brain injury, fell motionless on the bus floor, never to wake again.”
Mason Zisette was the oldest of four children in his family, the suit states.
“His three younger siblings worshiped Mason as he was the linchpin of the Zisettes’ loving six-person family,” the suit states. “Mason was charming, smart, outgoing honest, upbeat and friendly to tall.”
The loss to Mason Zisette’s family “cannot truly be calculated,” according to the complaint.
The suit alleges Starline Tours has “long been on notice of the risk of instant death presented by these double-decker buses. Despite this notice, (Starline) continues to needlessly and recklessly … transport the public on these double-decker buses.”
— City News Service
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