Southern California Charter Bus Crash Leaves 3 Dead, Injures 18
Three people died tragically last Saturday morning, after a charter bus flipped over along a Southern California freeway outside of San Diego.
The February 22nd accident left 18 others injured, including a child who remains in critical condition.
Executive Lines Charter Bus Veered Off Rain-Slicked Freeway
The Executive Lines, LTD charter bus was transporting 21 passengers from El Monte, California to Tijuana, Mexico when it crashed shortly before 10:30 a.m. along a rain-slicked section of Interstate 15 South, just past State Road 76 near Fallbrook.
According to the California Highway Patrol, the vehicle was about to head uphill in a heavy rainstorm when the driver apparently lost control. The bus veered off the highway, overturned, and slid down an embankment before coming to rest along the hillside.
Multiple passengers were ejected from the charter bus, while others were trapped inside.
“Little by little I start remembering and getting flashbacks and I would only hear people screaming that were inside and the others were trapped,” one crash victim told Telemundo20.
3 Executive Lines Bus Passengers Died at Crash Scene
Before the injured could be extracted from the bus, emergency crews spent nearly 30 minutes ensuring the vehicle was stabilized.
Three people, all women between the ages of 73 and 23, died at the scene.
Eighteen others were rushed to area hospitals, including a 5-year-old boy airlifted to Riverside University Health System with a serious head injury. Although still listed in critical condition, the child is expected to make a full recovery.
The remaining 16 passengers sustained injuries ranging from minor to serious, including broken bones and lacerations. The bus driver, a 52-year-old man from Whittier, suffered minor abrasions and was treated onsite.
Bus May Have Hydroplaned Just Before Crash
The driver was also interviewed at the crash scene, but it’s still unclear why he lost control of the bus. At this time, the California Highway Patrol does not believe driver impairment was a factor.
At least one witness reported that the vehicle had hydroplaned before veering off the roadway.
“The bus driver tried to turn the wheel and it hit an embankment and just flipped over, went down the hill,” the motorist told NBC 7. “[I] got out and just ran down the hill, started just picking people up and carrying them up the hill.”
The charter bus was equipped with seatbelts, but it seems few passengers were wearing them.
NTSB Investigating California Charter Bus Crash
On Sunday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced it would deploy an investigative team to San Diego. The NTSB probe will focus on a number of possible crash contributors, including the driver’s training and hours of service; the weather and roadway conditions at the time of the accident; and the condition of the bus itself.
The U.S. Department of Transportation website has no record of any crashes involving Executive Lines buses and the company appears to have passed all inspections conducted over the past two years.
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