By Allan M. Siegel.
In one of the deadliest wrecks in California history, 13 people were killed
and at least 31 were injured when a tour bus crashed into a commercial
truck early Sunday morning in Palm Springs. According to the California
Highway Patrol, the crash occurred shortly after 5:00 am Sunday when the
tour bus, en route to Los Angeles from a casino trip, collided into the
back of a tractor-trailer. The bus driver was among the victims killed
in the crash, and the truck driver suffered minor injuries.
Local and federal officials investigating the crash stated it was unclear
whether alcohol, drugs, or fatigue played a role in the crash. Although
the cause has yet to be determined, some facts about the incident have
been released, including:
- At the time of the crash, authorities were slowing traffic as utility workers
performed work across the freeway.
- CHP officials report the bus was traveling much faster than the truck,
which the tractor-trailer to enter roughly 15 feet into the bus itself.
- The bus had passed a mechanical inspection in April without any issues.
In the past two years, records show it had no crashes and had a satisfactory
- The 1996 bus did not have seatbelts. Officials also state that due to its
age, it likely did not have a data recorder that could show how fast the
tour bus was going and whether brakes were applied prior to impact.
- The tour bus company, USA Holiday, operated one vehicle using one driver.
It is believed to have been a small family-operated business.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are
looking further into the crash. While they will focus on all aspects of the
bus crash, officials have expressed concern over how fast the bus was traveling
at the time of the crash. Given the fact that the tractor-trailer was
traveling very slowly due to traffic and maintenance work, investigators
will be looking for possible signs of driver inattention or fatigue, in
addition to other potential causes.
Investigations following significant crashes are essential in determining
what happened and whether similar tragedies can be prevented in the future.
Our team at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. hope the investigation
can provide some closure for those involved, as well as the information
needed to address important issues and improve transportation safety for everyone.