At least 8 people killed in California tour bus crash

At least 8 people killed in California tour bus crash

A tour bus carrying dozens of men, women and children from Tijuana, Mexico, crashed in the mountains of Southern California after spending Sunday at a winter recreation area, killing at least eight and as many as 10 people, authorities said.

California Highway Patrol spokesman Mario Lopez said yesterday that the number of eight confirmed deaths was expected to rise because the coroner was just starting to remove bodies from the mangled vehicles and also take away the remains of those who were ejected.

More than three dozen people were injured. At least 17 were still hospitalized yesterday, including at least five in critical condition.

The accident occurred at around 6:30pm on Sunday about 130 kilometers east of Los Angeles. It left the highway littered with debris and the bus sideways across the two lanes, with its windows blown out, front end crushed and part of the roof peeled back like a tin can. The bus was perched at the edge of an embankment.

"It's really a mess up there with body parts," said California Department of Transportation spokeswoman Michelle Profant.

The speeding bus rear-ended a Saturn sedan on the mountain road, flipped and hit a Ford pickup, Lopez said. One person in the truck was injured. The fate of at least two people in the car was not clear, Lopez said.

Investigators will determine if mechanical failure or driver error was to blame, Lopez said. The bus driver, who survived but was injured, told investigators the vehicle had brake problems, he said. "It appears speed was a factor in this collision," Lopez said.

Lettering on the 1996 model bus indicated that it was operated by Scapadas Magicas LLC, a company based in National City, California. Jordi Garcia, a manager for InterBus Tours, said his company ran Sunday's trip. He said 38 people departed Tijuana at 5am for skiing at Big Bear.