Paula Becker and Barry Brown said when they bought their son a Greyhound ticket to California, they never thought he would have been safer staying in Seattle.

Hunter Brown was killed when the bus he’d been traveling on struck and ran over him as he was trying to reboard the vehicle in Central Point, Oregon on June 29. Now, the 25-year-old Capitol Hill man’s parents are suing Greyhound Lines, Inc., in the hopes that a tragedy like what happened to Hunter never happens again.

“We really do want to get Greyhound’s attention and get the safety of their passengers to the very top of the discussion,” said Becker in a phone interview with the Capitol Hill Times on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

Hunter grew up in Seattle, attending Roosevelt High School, and later studied at Seattle Central and North Seattle College. He had struggled with opioid addiction for a decade, making his first trip to rehab when he was a senior in high school. He was heading to San Francisco at the time of his death, trying to get away from the negative influences around him in Seattle, Becker said.

“This is part of Hunter’s story, and we’re not keeping it a secret, and he, like so many people in this world, battled with addiction,” she said. “He was going to California to start again.”

The lawsuit filed by Hunter Brown’s parents claims the bus driver, Arthur Coley, Sr., who took over driving a bus heading from Seattle to Los Angeles when it stopped in Portland, was fatigued and hostile toward passengers at the onset of the trip.

“Before passengers boarded, Coley got into a shouting match with a passenger over an unopened beer, and Coley refused to let the customer continue on his trip. Witnesses to the exchange found Coley’s reaction disproportional and hostile,” the complaint states. “…Once the continuing passengers were seated, Coley began his pre-trip announcements. Those announcements started with Coley informing the entire bus that he was so exhausted that he might fall asleep and warning them not to do anything that would further agitate him.”

Coley is alleged to have thrown three teenage passengers off the bus later in the trip, before pulling into a Pilot truck stop in Central Point, Oregon at 1 a.m. on June 29. The driver reportedly alerted passengers that the bus would be leaving at 1:30, and that he would leave anyone behind who arrived late, the complaint states.

Brown got off the bus with other passengers to get food at the truck stop, but Coley allegedly began to leave prior to the 1:30 a.m. deadline he had set for passengers to return, the complaint states. The lawsuit alleges passengers on the bus protested, but Coley continued to pull the bus away from the truck stop.

The complaint states Brown ran up alongside and banged on the side of the bus, asking Coley to open the door, but Coley continued making a wide right turn onto an adjoining roadway even after looking over at the 25-year-old Seattle man.

“The bus knocked Hunter off balance, he fell to the ground and was run over by the front right side bus tires,” the lawsuit states, adding Coley then stopped and got out of the bus, but instructed passengers offering medical assistance to stay on.

“Coley called 911 and the police and ambulance arrived,” the lawsuit states. “They found Hunter dead behind the wheels of the bus near the door. Blunt force trauma was the cause of his death.”

The petition filed by Hunter Brown’s parents claims Coley ignored a number of Greyhound’s safety rules, including those about meal stops and boarding passengers, and also faults the bus line company for negligence. On top of damages, Brown’s parents want Greyhound to accept accountability and change its business practices to avoid another unnecessary death in the future.

“We really don’t want any other family to have to go thorough this trauma,” Becker said.

Hunter’s father said detectives in Central Point that investigated the young man’s death initially called it a tragic accident, and he and Becker were prepared to accept that. Then Hunter Brown’s grandmother led them to an online article about the incident, where witnesses and fellow passengers were speaking out. Barry Brown said one woman even left a way to contact her.

“She left her number, and she said, ‘I saw this and here’s my number,’ and I called her and talked to her,” Barry Brown said. “She said (Hunter) ran after the bus, yelling, “Stop, my stuff is on there.’”

Hunter Brown’s parents enlisted the help of a private investigator, and fellow passengers and witnesses at the truck stop were eager to talk, Barry Brown said, adding one person gathered the names and numbers of all of the other passengers.

“For us, what we wanted was the testimony and the stories of the people riding on that bus, which would give us a fuller story of the last few minutes of Hunter’s life,” Becker said.

Becker and Brown said they haven’t spoken with anyone from Greyhound since about a week after their son’s death, and that had been a representative from Dallas who had called wanting to know more about Hunter Brown; they think he was calculating the cost of a settlement.

“He said, ‘Gee, I’m sorry. We’d be happy to fly someone out there and answer any questions you have and maybe settle things,’” Brown said.

Hunter Brown’s parents say they don’t plan on settling, and they believe it will take the courts to make sure Greyhound makes operational changes that do more to ensure the safety of its  passengers.

“We need the courts to make it clear that Greyhound recognizes the harm that they’ve done and take steps to make it right,” Barry Brown said.

A Greyhound spokesperson told the Capitol Hill Times the company does not have a statement at this time as it does not provide comment on pending litigation.