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Jury awards nothing to man run over by Santa Rosa bus

  • Santa Rosa firefighters on the scene of the bus accident in 2011. (PD FILE, 2011)

A Sonoma County jury on Thursday awarded nothing to a man who suffered major injuries when he was run over by a city bus in 2011 while he was drunk.

Attorneys for Billy Arial, 49, asked the jury to find the bus driver negligent and award Arial $848,000 in damages for the April 21 accident, which happened at 5:40 p.m. near a bus stop on Sonoma Avenue at the Montgomery Village Shopping Center.

Arial had a blood alcohol level of .30 shortly after the accident, more than three times the legal limit to drive, evidence showed.

Testimony at the two-week trial indicated that Arial boarded the bus, changed his mind, and after the bus pulled away from the curb he lost his balance and fell under the right rear wheel.

The Navy veteran suffered open fractures to his arms and legs as well as internal injuries. He survived but his attorneys claimed he has permanent injuries.

They argued that the bus driver, Elaine Jackson, neglected to make sure Arial was far enough away from the bus before pulling away. But Assistant City Attorney Rob Jackson convinced them she did everything she was supposed to and it was Arial's intoxication that caused the accident.

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