Tour bus hits truck, killing 13, in­jur­ing 31

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - WEATHER - By El­liot Spagat

PALM SPRINGS, CALIF. >> A tour bus slammed into the back of a semi-truck on a South­ern Cal­i­for­nia high­way early Sun­day, killing 13 peo­ple and in­jur­ing at least 31 oth­ers, some crit­i­cally, au­thor­i­ties said.

The pas­sen­ger bus was go­ing much faster than the truck, but it’s not yet clear if it was speed­ing on In­ter­state 10 just north of the desert re­sort town of Palm Springs, Cal­i­for­nia High­way Pa­trol Bor­der Di­vi­sion Chief Jim Abele told reporters.

“The speed of bus was so sig­nif­i­cant that the trailer it­self en­tered about 15 feet into the bus,” he said at a news con­fer­ence. “You can see it was a sub­stan­tial im­pact.”

Abele said it was not known if al­co­hol, drugs or fa­tigue played a role in the crash about 100 miles east of Los An­ge­les. The USA Hol­i­day tour bus was re­turn­ing to Los An­ge­les af­ter a visit to the Red Earth Casino in Ther­mal, about 25 miles south­east of Palm Springs. The bus driver was killed, and the truck driver re­ceived mi­nor in­juries.

Pas­sen­gers told of­fi­cials that most peo­ple were asleep when the crash oc­curred at 5:17 a.m. Abele said he didn’t be­lieve the 1996 bus had seat belts and likely didn’t have a black box out­fit­ted in newer ve­hi­cles.

The bus was in­spected in 2014, 2015 and this year and didn’t have any me­chan­i­cal is­sues, Abele said. Fed­eral Mo­tor Car­rier Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion records show it had no crashes in the two years be­fore Oct. 22 and had a sat­is­fac­tory safety rat­ing.

The front of the bus had crum­pled into the semitruck’s trailer and de­bris was scat­tered across the key route through South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Fire­fight­ers used lad­ders to climb into the bus’ win­dows to re­move bod­ies and tow trucks lifted the trailer to make it eas­ier to reach the bus, whose front end was de­mol­ished.

Desert Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Palm Springs re­ceived 14 pa­tients: five in crit­i­cal con­di­tion, three in se­ri­ous con­di­tion and six with mi­nor in­juries, hos­pi­tal mar­ket­ing direc­tor Rich Ramhoff said.

Eleven peo­ple with mi­nor in­juries were sent to Eisen­hower Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Ran­cho Mi­rage, spokesper­son Lee Rice said. JFK Me­mo­rial Med­i­cal Cen­ter in In­dio re­ceived five pa­tients, all with mi­nor in­juries, chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer Linda Evans said.

CHP Of­fi­cer Stephanie Hamil­ton ear­lier told the Desert Sun news­pa­per in Palm Springs that the driver was one of the own­ers of USA Hol­i­day, based near Los An­ge­les. The com­pany has one ve­hi­cle and one driver, ac­cord­ing to the Fed­eral Mo­tor Car­rier Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

A phone mes­sage left for the com­pany was not im­me­di­ately re­turned. A Face­book mes­sage from USA Hol­i­day said it did not have much in­for­ma­tion about the crash.

KMIR-TV VIA AP

This photo pro­vided by KMIR-TV shows the scene of crash be­tween a tour bus and a semi-truck crashed on In­ter­state 10 near Desert Hot Springs, near Palm Springs, in Cal­i­for­nia’s Mo­jave Desert Sun­day, Oct. 23, 2016. Mul­ti­ple deaths and in­juries were re­ported.

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