HARTFORD — The parents of a University of Connecticut student who was runover and killed by a university shuttle bus in 2011 will receive $5.5 million under the terms of a settlement with the state and university.
David Plamondon, 20, a pre-med student from Westminster, Mass., was struck by the shuttle bus on March 22, 2011 as he walked in a crosswalk at at Hillside Road and Alumni Drive. He died at the scene.
The bus driver, fellow UConn student Lukasz Gilewski, 21, of Newington, was waving to another bus driver as he turned left from Hillside Road onto Alumni Drive a moment before striking Plamondon. That moment of inattention cost Plamondon his life.
A passenger on the bus told UConn police that she saw Gilewski wave and then felt two quick thumps a few seconds later. Gilewski then stopped the bus and said, “Oh God, oh God,” another passenger told police. The bus then ran over Plamondon with its front and rear tires.
Gilewski was charged and ultimately pleaded no contest to negligent homicide with a motor vehicle. He was sparred jail and sentenced to two years of probation. Neither man had drugs or alcohol in his system.
Plamondon’s parents, George and Linda Plamondon, brought the lawsuit in July 2011 charging that the state, through its employee, was negligent. Gilewsky was named in the lawsuit, but the full settlement will be paid by the state or its insurance carrier, said Michael J. Walsh of the West Hartford law firm Moukawsher & Walsh, who represented Plamondon’s family.
Plamondon was majoring in physiology and neurobiology and had a 3.7 out of 4 grade point average, Walsh said. His plan was to attend medical school. He also was an accomplished baseball player, having played semipro ball in Massachusetts, and san in a Uconn a cappella group called A Minor.
Hartford Superior Court Judge Antonio C. Robaina presided over the settlement discussions between lawyers for both sides. The suit was formally withdrawn Sept. 5, after a check was issued.
Plamondon’s family thinks their son’s death was preventable and have urged the university to stop using students as bus drivers. Students continue to drive buses at UConn, but the university has taken other steps to improve safety, including an audible warning to pedestrians that a bus is turning.
By Christine Dempsey and David Owens, Hartford Courant