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Jury awards $15 million to survivor of I-16 crash
I-16 crash
The April 22, 2015 crash on I-16 near the Highway 280 exit in Bryan County killed five Georgia Southern nursing students and injured two others. The driver, Wayne Johnson of Louisiana, apologized to the families. He was sentenced to five years in prison and five years probation. - photo by File

A Bryan County jury on Friday awarded $15 million to Megan Richards, one of two survivors of an April 22, 2015 crash on I-16 which killed Georgia Southern University Nursing students.

Richards was represented by Jones, Osteen & Jones partners Billy Jones and Carl Varnedoe, and the Cheeley Law Group of Savannah. The attorneys also represented three of the families whose daughters were killed in the crash.

““I have tried numerous jury trials on behalf of personal injury victims and those killed by the negligence of others and in my 45 years trying cases, I have never met a person full of more grace, courage and faith as Megan Richards,” Jones said in a press release. “She is the most deserving client I have ever had the pleasure of representing.”

“Trials are tough. The days are long and the nights are longer. Few lawyers are up to the task,” Varnedoe said. “You have to roll up your sleeves, dig in and put every ounce of your being into a trial because your client only gets once shot at full and complete justice. Justice was definitely served on Friday.”

Both attorneys said Saturday they share the same sentiment.

“The verdict gives Megan closure,” Jones said. “She has bravely carried the torch for herself and her friends, stood up to the fourth largest trucking company in the country and taken them to the mat.” 

The decision was the result of a civil suit against Total Transportation of Mississippi and its owner, U.S. Express.

The students killed in the crash were Caitlyn Baggett, 21, of Millen; Morgan Bass, 20, of Leesburg; Emily Clark, 20, of Powder Springs; Abbie Deloach, 21, of Savannah; and Catherine Pittman of Alpharetta.

The trucking company settled with the families of those who died and the other survivor, Brittney McDaniel.


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