Many people are mourning Polly Rogers, the victim in an incident involving a party bus. Her family. Her friends. Her sorority sisters. Her fellow students at the University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNC Charlotte). The common thread in their grief is that Rogers died too young.
The 20-year-old had boarded a fraternity-hired party bus on May 1, 2018, and was traveling from an off-campus party to a bar in Charlotte when she reportedly leaned against an emergency exit window. That window gave way, for unknown reasons, and sent Rogers tumbling through the window and onto the road below. She was struck by two vehicles and killed. Officials have since issued multiple citations against the owner of the party bus company, which has been charged with similar offenses in the past.
Rogers’ death is the latest in a shocking string of similar fatal party bus incidents across the country.
UNC Charlotte Student Struck by Two Vehicles After Falling from Party Bus
The fatal accident occurred at approximately 10:25 p.m. as the Charlotte Party Charters bus, which had been rented by the Kappa-Omega Chapter of UNC Charlotte, was transporting passengers from an off-campus party to a bar. The party bus was driving on North Tryon Street in the area of the Sugar Creek Road intersection when, according to witnesses, Rogers fell from a window on the bus and was struck by the two vehicles.
Investigators have stayed relatively quiet on the details of the incident, but the father of one of the other passengers on the party bus spoke with WSOC TV about the events.
“The girl leaned against the window—which evidently was an emergency exit window—and my son says the latches were broke, evidently, and she fell out,” the unidentified individual explained. “I don’t think the girl did anything wrong. All she did was lean against the window.”
What came next was undeniably horrifying.
Rogers fell into the center lane of the roadway and was struck by two vehicles.
“Out of nowhere I just come out of nowhere and started yelling, ‘Yo, stop, stop, stop, slow down, slow down, call 911, call 911’,” Juan Vasquez, a witness to the accident said to the news outlet. “‘Call an ambulance!’ Everyone (just) kept driving and driving and driving.”
Rogers, who was studying special education and is remembered by friends as a beautiful human, died at the scene.
Charlotte Party Charters Bus Was Uninsured and Had a Fake License Plate
Officials cited Victor Rabb, who owns the transportation company, for the party bus in question not having insurance and also having a fictitious license plate. According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, Rabb surrendered the bus to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol’s Motor Carrier Division so state investigators can inspect it for any equipment violations.
A news team went to two of the addresses listed for Charlotte Party Charters but could not find anyone on the premises. A website operated by the company was reportedly taken down the day after the incident.
The party bus company has been in trouble with authorities before. Charges of a fictitious tag and an uninsured vehicle were filed against them in 2012, but were dismissed by prosecutors. Rabb pled guilty to improper use of a dealer permit or tag the next year.
Officials believe alcohol was on the bus, though they are not sure what role it played in the incident. An Alcohol Law Enforcement agent who is not involved with the case, however, said Charlotte Party Charters has been the subject of investigation before.
“Yes, we’ve seen violations at the previous encounters [with Rabb],” the unidentified individual who is working undercover told WSOCTV. “Alcohol violations, some commercial motor vehicle violations.”
A report from the state Highway Patrol noted the bus had two unmarked emergency exits and an engine oil leak.
Police Still Searching for a Driver in Connection with Charlotte Party Bus Death
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department believes Rogers was struck by two vehicles, and while they have interviewed the driver of one of those vehicles, they are still searching for the second.
So far, they have not identified the second driver or vehicle, but they have urged that person to come forward and those with information on the crash or the person in question to contact them.
Kappa Sigma Fraternity Suspended After Charlotte Party Bus Death
Kappa Sigma Fraternity is said to have been the one who chartered the party bus for that Tuesday, and it has since announced it is suspending the operations of the Kappa-Omega Chapter located at UNC Charlotte.
Concerns Over Party Buses Have Grown in Recent Years
While the Charlotte party bus death is shocking, similar incidents have been frighteningly frequent on party buses in recent years.
Just two years ago, on August 21, 2016, a Massachusetts woman died when she fell out of a party bus emergency exit window in the same manner as Rogers. The company operating the party bus received multiple fines in the past and had only a conditional safety rating because of various problems.
In another similar incident, an Oregon girl riding in a party bus for a friend’s 15th birthday fell through an emergency exit window as the party bus rounded a corner. She was run over by the rear wheels of the bus, which was later found to have some nonfunctional windows and an unsecured emergency latch on the window that the girl fell through.
Other party bus accidents include a range of injuries and deaths caused by varying circumstances, but unsafe and illegal drivers and poorly maintained and insufficient equipment are common trends.