13 die in California tour bus accident

Los Angeles Times

DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif. —— Thirteen people died and 31 others were injured Sunday morning when a tour bus collided with a big-rig truck on the Interstate 10 near Palm Springs, Calif., officials said.

The bus, operated by USA Holiday, slammed into a truck on the westbound 10 at 5:17 a.m. Sunday, said Jim Abele, a chief with the California Highway Patrol. The driver of the bus was among the dead, he said

Identities of other victims, as well as survivors, are still unknown, “largely due to the swift extraction and immediate triage that they needed,” Abele said.

The front of the tour bus was crumpled inward and the back of the truck trailer was destroyed.

Shortly after the wreck, which occurred just after 5 a.m., firefighters used ladders to climb into the bus to search for bodies and survivors.

By noon Sunday, the tour bus had been hauled away, and workers swept and carried debris from the road. Several bus seats that had been scattered on the freeway were taken away. Nearby, an official packed purses and backpacks into brown paper bags.

Bodies that had lined the side of the road in white bags were removed, two at a time, in a slow procession of coroner’s vans. The Riverside County coroner’s office could not confirm the number of fatalities.

More than three dozen people were on the bus, which may have been returning from the Red Earth Casino near the Salton Sea, the Desert Sun reported.

Desert Regional Medical Center, which has the Coachella Valley’s only trauma center, received 14 adult patients, including five who were in critical condition, said public information officer Richard Ramhoff.

Eisenhower Medical Center received 11 adult patients, all with minor injuries, said public information officer Lee Rice.

John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital received five adult patients with minor injuries, including neck strain and cuts and abrasions, said nursing supervisor Stephen Williams.

The bus was operated by USA Holiday, an Alhambra, Calif.-based company that owns one bus and employs one driver, according to federal records.

According to FreightConnect, a private data provider, USA Holiday was last inspected by federal transportation officials in April of last year and received a satisfactory rating. No issues with the coach or driver were reported.

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