Over 30 Passengers Also Injured When USA Holiday Tour Bus Slammed Into Rear Of Semi Truck
Palm Springs, CA (October 23, 2016) – Thirteen people died and several more suffered life-threatening injuries after a tour bus collided with a semi-truck early Sunday morning, October 23, 2016, while traveling on Interstate Highway 10 between the cities of Desert Hot Springs and Palm Springs in Riverside County, California. The tour bus belonged to USA Holiday, a Los Angeles-based tour company. The bus was carrying 44 people and was returning from Red Earth Casino in Thermal, California, back to Los Angeles, CHP said. The bus driver was killed in the crash, and all passengers who survived the collision were injured.
All westbound lanes of I-10 were closed at Indian Canyon following the crash that was first reported just after 5 a.m., and traffic was diverted off I-10 at Indian Canyon. Throughout the morning, firefighters struggled to reach victims. The bus had crashed into the big rig’s trailer, and a tow truck was used to lift the trailer and help officials gain easier access to the demolished vehicle. Another tow truck tried to pull the big rig forward, off the bus. Firefighters positioned ladders in the bus’ windows to pull victims out.
USA Holiday, the tour bus operator, regularly carries passengers from the Los Angeles area to Southern California casinos, the Desert Sun reported. A maintenance crew was working on the highway and slowing down traffic when a tour bus plowed into the back of a semi-truck.
California Highway Patrol Border Division Chief Jim Abele stated the cause of the accident was under investigation. However, the bus was going significantly faster than the truck. Investigators subsequently stated the bus driver, Teodulo Elias Vides, who was among the dead, appeared to have made no attempt to brake as the bus slammed into the back of a big rig. His company, USA Holiday, had been sued at least twice for negligence after collisions with vehicles, one of which ended in three deaths. He also had been cited in several counties for traffic violations.
The Los Angeles Times reported that many victims were grandmothers on limited incomes: “There were 10 women and three men, hailing from countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico.”
The crash was among the deadliest in California in years. In April 2014, 10 people were killed in a fiery crash near Orland, California, when a FedEx tractor-trailer crossed a narrow median on Interstate 5 and slammed into a bus carrying high school students from Los Angeles who were on their way to visit a college campus. The National Transportation Safety Board investigated that collision and said more than a year later that it was a mystery why the truck driver had crossed the median.
Following that crash, the NTSB also urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require secondary doors as emergency exits on new bus designs.
We offer our condolences to the families and friends whose loved ones died in the tour bus accident.