A lawsuit recently filed in a Pennsylvania court says that a truck driver’s use of noise-cancelling headphones contributed to a deadly crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in January 2020.

The civil suit was filed on behalf of 18 crash victims or next of kin in the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court and names FedEx Ground Package System Inc. and New Jersey-based Z&D Tours Inc. as defendants.

The lawsuit was filed in response to a major pileup crash that occurred on January 5, 2020, on the Pennsylvania Turnpike about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh.

NTSB

The crash began when 58 year old Z&D Tours bus driver Shuang Oing Feng allegedly lost control on a downhill curve, striking a concrete median and then shooting up an embankment.

The tour bus then rolled onto the passenger side, coming to a stop in active lanes of traffic on the Turnpike. A FedEx truck struck the bus, then a second semi truck struck both the bus and the FedEx truck.

A car and a third semi truck both swerved off the roadway to avoid the wrecked vehicles.

Five people perished in the crash, including Feng, who was ejected, both occupants of the second semi truck, and two bus passengers. Sixty other people were injured in the crash.

The lawsuit alleges that FedEx truck driver Brandon Stowers did not hear an in-cab warning about an object in the road prior to the crash due to noise-cancelling headphones. An attorney who filed the lawsuit told TribLive.com that dash cam video showed Stowers wearing the headphones prior to the crash. He also notes that the use of noise-cancelling headphones while driving is illegal in Pennsylvania.

FedEx Ground denies the allegations laid out in the suit. “The allegations against FedEx Ground and Mr. Stowers are without merit and we intend to defend our position should this matter proceed,” the company said.

The suit also alleges that Feng was negligent in the crash for failing to drive to conditions.

A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that light snow was falling at the time of the crash.

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