On the morning of October 23, thirteen people were killed and 31 others injured in a horrifying collision between a tour bus and a big rig truck near Palm Springs, according to officials. It was one of the deadliest crashes in California history.
The tragic incident happened at 5:17 a.m. in the westbound lanes of the 10 Freeway. The bus slammed into the rear of the tractor trailer at a high speed, crushing the front third of the cabin. Most of the fatal victims were sitting toward the front of the bus. The USA Holiday tour bus had picked up the passengers from a casino in Thermal near the Salton Sea, and was on its way to Los Angeles. Many aboard the bus were asleep when the unthinkable occurred.
The Riverside County Coroner’s office recently confirmed the identities of the fatal victims:
- Isabel Jimenez Hernandez, 66, of Los Angeles
- Rosa Ruiz, 53, of Los Angeles
- Gustavo Green, 62, of Los Angeles
- Zoila Aguilera, 72, of Los Angeles
- Teodulo Vides, 59, of Los Angeles
- Milagros Gonzales, 72, of Los Angeles
- Conception Corvera, 57, of Palmdale
- Aracely Tije, 63, of Los Angeles
- Dora Galvez de Rodriguez, 69, of Los Angeles
- Elvia Sanchez, 52, of Los Angeles
- Ana Gomes de Magallon, 71, of Los Angeles
The remaining two victims have only been described as a man and woman.
Investigators are considering several factors in determining the cause of the accident. They will look into whether the driver of the bus, who was among those killed, had a medical episode, was fatigued, or under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol at the time of the incident. They hope that a search of the debris will yield an on board data recorder that will give them more insight into the circumstances of the crash. However, the bus may not have a recorder because it was manufactured in 1996.
Survivors were transported to the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage. They described a nightmarish scene of bodies covered with blood and victims screaming for help.
USA Holiday, an Alhambra-based company that owns one bus and employs one driver, received a satisfactory rating by federal transportation officials, and no complaints were ever filed.
The investigation is still ongoing.
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