ngers Seven people died and 30 hurt when a tour bus crashed on Highway 38 in Yucaipa. (Photo: Los Angeles Times)
Fatal bus accident: Seven people died and at least 30 others were injured Sunday night when a tour bus careened out of control and crashed on a narrow mountain highway in Yucaipa.
• A tour bus carrying 38 passengers from Tijuana and San Diego went out of control on a downhill stretch of the narrow mountain highway that leads from Big Bear ski area.
• The bus clipped a car, crushed an oncoming pickup truck, flipped over, and ejected several passengers before coming to rest on top of a big boulder.
• Seven people died; 30 more were injured, some critically.
• Federal inspectors had found numerous safety violations on the bus, including bad brakes and a faulty axle, in the past year.
The mass disaster occurred at around 6:30 p.m. on State Route 38 leading from the Big Bear area in the San Bernardino Mountains, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.
California Highway Patrol Officer Mario Lopez said the bus — which had originated in Tijuana, Mexico and was returning from the Big Bear Lake ski resort area — was carrying 38 passengers, including children.
The bus driver, 52-year-old Norberto B. Perez of San Ysidro, lost control on a downhill stretch near the U.S. Forest Service ranger station and hit a small Saturn sedan. The bus then veered into oncoming traffic and started to flip over, ejecting six passengers, before crashing into an oncoming Ford pickup truck that was towing a trailer. The truck was completely mangled and crushed.
The tour bus finally came to rest on top of a boulder on the side of the road. Lopez said backpacks, clothing, and body parts were scattered all over the crash site.
“It is a horrific scene,” Lopez told the San Bernardino Sun at the crash site. “It’s a tragedy. It’s one of the worst collisions I’ve witnessed in my career.”
Seven bus passengers died. The San Bernardino County Coroner’s Office had identified six of those victims as of Monday. Three were from San Diego: 61-year-old Guadalupe Olivas, 40-year-old Elvira Garcia Jimenez, and 13-year-old Victor Cabrera Garcia. Three of the remaining four deceased victims were from Tijuana: 38-year-old Aleida Adriana Arce Hernandez, 34-year-old Rubicelia Escobedo Flores, and 32-year-old Mario Garcia Santoyo. The coroner’s office was still attempting to identify the seventh deceased victim.
The man who was driving the pickup truck suffered critical injuries, according to his niece, Beaumont Councilwoman Brenda Knight. Knight told the Sun the prognosis was not good. No further information about his condition was available as of Monday afternoon.
Injured victims who survived the crash were taken to Redlands Community Hospital, Loma Linda University Medical Center, Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, and Community Hospital of San Bernardino. Some of the victims were in critical condition, while others were in serious, fair, or stable condition, hospital officials told the Sun. Other victims with lesser injuries were treated and released.
The bus driver survived. He told officers at the scene that he had experienced mechanical problems with the bus before it went out of control. It was not yet clear if the brakes went out.
“Speed seems to be a factor, but we don’t know what caused the bus to speed down the mountain road,” Officer Lopez said.
Over the past year, federal inspectors found faulty brakes, a faulty axle, a damaged windshield, loose or missing wheel fasteners, and numerous other safety violations on the bus, according to accident records cited by the Los Angeles Times.
Both the CHP and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the accident.
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