A catastrophic bus crash in San Bernardino, California, has left at least seven dead and 42 people wounded. The death count is expected to rise as some victims remain in critical condition. Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the crash in the midst of chaos. Here's what you need to know.
1. The Crash Involved Three Vehicles Including a Tour Bus
Although the cause of the crash was not immediately known, it is believed that at about 6:30 p.m. (9:30 p.m. ET) Sunday, a tour bus rear-ended a sedan and crashed into a pickup truck that was hooked to a trailer. There was clear indication of a rollover as the top of the bus was caved in and part of the roof was ripped open.
2. Victims are Mostly Tourists from Mexico
The tour bus was carrying men, women and children from Tijuana, Mexico. The bus was returning from a day of skiing at Big Bear ski resort. The tour company that organized the trip is believed to be collaborating with local Mexican Consulate to help families.
3. Brake Failure is Believed to be the Cause of the Crash
In an interview with authorities, the driver stated the bus’ brakes failed as he was traveling downhill. Initial examinations also point to break failure as cause of crash. As InterBus official Jodi Garcia stated:
The information that we have is that the bus’ brakes failed and the accident occurred.
Investigators are still determining whether driver error is to blame. The long skid-marks that dramatically scar the pavement indicate that the bus’ speed may have been a factor.
4. The Bus Company Has a Troubled Safety Record
The bus involved in the accident has been linked to Scapadas Magicas, a tour bus company based in National City, California. Safety reports from the past indicate that Scapadas Magicas had no reported crashes within the past two years. However, it has been discovered that the company failed 36 percent of random safety tests while similar companies fail rate average at 21 percent. Although it passed last months review from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration- three-quarters of similar companies have better safety records.
The LA Times reports that the company has been put on a "watch list" by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Scapadas Magicas has yet to comment on the incident.
5. There Were Terrible Conditions for Rescue Efforts
Seven ambulances had to maneuver through downhill winding roads to get to the scene of the crash. The highway was incredibly narrow and it was littered with debris.
6. The Severity of the Crash Made for a Horrific Scene
In an interview with CNN, California Highway Patrol spokesman Mario Lopez said:
It’s a horrific scene… probably one of the worst ones I have seen in my career. There are victims inside the bus, outside the bus, personal belongings [everywhere].
People were ejected from the bus. Numerous tarps covering bodies and body-parts populated the wreckage.
7. 27 Victims Were Sent to Five Different Hospitals; Some Are Children
As stated in the San Bernadino Sun, patients were transported to several hospitals with injuries ranging from minor to life-threatening. Hospitals were in communication and collaborated in order to track victims and their respective family members.
8. The Accident Occurred in a Remote Area in the Mountains of Southern California
The crash took place in a mountainous region of State Route 38, somewhere between Mentone and Forest Falls. In an interview with local newspaper, a couple that has lived in the area for 20 years said that they have seen many deadly accidents where the crash took place.
9. Death Tolls Are Expected to Rise
Six people are in critical condition, one of these people is a girl under the age of 18.
10. The Crash Occurred Less than a Day after a Boston School Bus Slammed into an Overpass
In Boston, less than 24 hours earlier, 35 people were injured as the driver attempted to pass onto a road with a height limit.