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Tour Bus Crash Near Palm Springs Kills 13

firefighter with accident victim

Coming back from a night at a Thermal casino with many of its passengers sound asleep, a USA Holiday tour bus slammed into a truck trailer near Desert Hot Springs. The impact crushed the front third of the bus cabin. When the smoke cleared, there were 13 fatalities and 31 injured.

The accident took place the morning of October 23 around 5:17 a.m. The bus was barreling west on 10 Freeway making its way back to Los Angeles. Many of the deceased appeared to be sitting at the front of the bus. One passenger, 61 year old Ana Car, reported, “I was awakened by the sounds of people screaming for help. I noticed a heavyset woman lying in the center aisle to my right yelling, ‘My legs! My legs!”’ Another survivor could only say, “Everyone, dead and alive, was covered with blood.”

Bus accident injures more than 30

California Highway Patrol Border Division Chief Jim Abele said, “In almost 35 years, I’ve never been to a crash where there’s been 13 confirmed fatals. It’s tough … you never get used to this.”

The road was covered in personal effects like purses and backpacks, and bus parts, including carpeted seats. It would not be long before bodies in white bags lined one side of the road.

Extensive investigation planned

Besides California authorities, federal investigators are looking to ascertain the cause of one of the deadliest road accidents for the state in decades.

Throughout the night before the accident, the California Highway Patrol was managing traffic on 10 Freeway as a Southern California Edison team worked to remove and repair electrical wires that had fallen over the roadway. One officer stated they were beginning to allow unobstructed, if slowed, passage not long before the collision.

Early reports indicate the tour bus’s front was demolished and crumpled. This implies the bus was moving faster than the truck. Investigators need to determine if the driver – one of the fatalities – may have been speeding. The investigation will also explore if the driver had a heart attack, fell asleep at the wheel or was under the influence, as well as the possibility of mechanical failure.

They hope to recover a data recorder. It could reveal how fast the vehicle was moving and if the driver attempted to brake. Unfortunately, the bus was manufactured in 1996 and may not have had a data recorder.

As the bus had no seal belts, passengers were thrown violently. Victims showed facial injury, soft tissue damage and other issues that could require plastic surgery, according to Richard Townsend, a doctor at Desert Regional Medical Center.

Officials stated victim identification could take a few days. An early notification was Rosalba Ruiz. The mother of three and grandmother of five was identified at the Riverside coroner’s office.

Ellis Law is devastated by this tragic news and sends its sympathies to the lost, the injured and their loved ones. Our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers offer seasoned legal advice to those who have been harmed or lost loved ones in traffic accidents. Schedule a free consultation by calling 1-800-INJURED.