The families of 23 nursing home patients who died in a bus explosion as they fled Hurricane Rita have settled their lawsuits against the nursing home that evacuated them. Lawyers for the families and for Sunrise Senior Living Services Inc., of McLean, Va., said terms of the settlement were confidential.
Brighton Gardens, a Houston area assisted living facility owned by Sunrise Living Services bussed residents north as Hurricane Rita approached the Texas coast two years ago. A rear wheel of the bus caught fire in the early morning of Sept. 23, 2005, on a freeway near Dallas. The vehicle was engulfed in flames and smoke. Those who died in the fire were too frail to escape the bus on their own.
A federal investigation found the bus fire started when poorly lubricated wheel bearings overheated in the right rear well, igniting a tire. The fire spread to oxygen canisters in the bus’s cabin, causing them to explode.