LOS ANGELES — This was one of worst crashes in Southern California that resulted to eight fatalities and injured many others. Last Friday, Federal authorities ruled that the tour bus operator of the crashed vehicle immediately cease its operation as inspection showed that their vehicles are poorly maintained and their drivers not properly qualified to operate a bus.
Promulgating the order, Administrators of Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced that all the three buses of the National City, Calif. currently based in Scapadas Magicas LLC in the U.S. will cease operating due to the imminent hazard their bus posed to public safety.
The 1996 bus’s worthiness was tested when it crashed on February 3 and the driver claimed that his brakes failed. It appeared that the bus was not inspected before it left for the tour so it smashed against a sedan on the road in the San Bernardino Mountains just east of Los Angeles. The bus carried 38 people, with one driver and a tour guide, on their way back to Tijuana.
Last Friday, a post inspection conducted by regulators of the company’s two other buses operating in the U.S. revealed serious violations of mechanical safety, including various brake problems. Inspectors discovered that the company did not provide regular inspection of their buses which may have been the main factor of the crash.
Last January of this year, a compliance review was conducted in Scapadas Magicas to test compliance to the company’s management safety system and they failed to take necessary steps. So the management is no longer allowed to continue its operation.
The Crash – On February 4, 2013, a bus filled with tired tourists was on its way home to Tijuana from a day at Big Bear where they enjoyed skiing and snowboarding. The vehicle was slowly descending a road from town Big Bear’s ski resort. All of the sudden, the vehicle accelerated its speed as the driver screamed asking passengers to call 911 for the brake failed.
Pandemonium ensued as everybody tried to frantically dial their cell phones; a group of girls were screaming and some started praying. Others were covering their heads as means of protection. The bus careened down hill, rear-ending a sedan along its path; then it veered and turned as it slid to its sides. A Ford coming from the approaching lane plowed into the fallen bus as passengers were ejected from the broken windows; it was then that the vehicle stopped.
Gerardo Barrientos, who was seated beside his girlfriend, said that it was like a fast motion in a film. When the bus overturned, everything flew out including people. The next minute he was scrambling out of the bus searching for his girlfriend and another friend. He found them both injured but alive.
There were seven people who died on the scene and three dozen sustaining both critical and minor injuries. Monday morning, families of the victims trooped to the area hospital to search for their loved ones. Meanwhile investigators were scrutinizing the crash for evidences as to its cause.
The Board of National Transportation Safety sent a team of inspectors to the scene to help in the investigation, which will show if the cause is mechanical failure or driver’s error. The operator of the bus was identified as 52 years old Norberto B. Perez and resident of San Ysidro. He was also injured and on his way to the hospital told the police that the brake of the vehicle had problems.
The bus on its way back to Tijuana was traveling along State 38 Route which is a two-lane highway that goes around the National Forest of San Bernardino. This was the site of the crash at 6:30 that evening.
An anonymous witness said that the bus was descending the hill with other vehicles overtaking when suddenly it sped up. It struck other vehicles along its way.
Diana Maldonado age 28 and resident of San Diego was among the injured. Her mother, Maria Salazar said that Diana described the horror felt by the passengers as the bus flipped; she hit her head and was later revived by a paramedic.
The crash filled Route 38 with debris, including body parts, winter clothing and various articles. The bus looked pathetic as it was lying across both lanes with blown-out windows, crashed front end and its roof peeled like a tin can.
Due to many repulsive injuries, it was hard for authorities to determine how many passengers died. Initially, they thought it was eight then it was reduced to seven after no more bodies were dug up from the wreck.
Up until Monday, 17 victims were in the hospital with one in critical condition. The driver of the bus suffered serious injuries while the driver of the pick-up (one of the vehicles that crashed on the bus) was in extreme condition.
Authorities confirmed that 38 people were aboard the bus that crashed, including the driver and a tour guide. The bus left Tijuana at 5:00 o’clock in the morning of Sunday and was scheduled to return late that night.
Officials announced that the death toll from Sunday’s tour bus crash near Yucaipa has increased to eight after the driver of the pickup truck struck by the bus died Wednesday morning.
The fatality was identified as Fred Bailey Richardson age 72. The coroner’s office reported that he died at Loma Linda University Medical Center that Monday morning.
Car Accident victims may be entitled to financial compensation for pain and suffering in addition to economic damages.
Please consult with our experienced Los Angeles Personal Injury lawyers now for free consultation.
Sources: News Yahoo Com (http://news.yahoo.com/us-orders-shutdown-bus-company-calif-crash-015542148.html) (http://news.yahoo.com/bus-passenger-describes-terror-calif-crash-194336542.html)