8 dead, 38 hurt in tour bus crash on California mountain highway
By TAMI ABDOLLAH Associated Press February 4, 2013 12:52AM
Authorities work the scene where at least eight people were killed and nearly two dozen were injured when a bus carrying a group from Tijuana, Mexico crashed with two other vehicles on its way back from Big Bear Lake on Highway 38 north of Yucaipa, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013. Both sides of the highway remained closed two and a half hours after the crash and it was unclear when it would reopen. (AP Photo/The Sun, Rick Sforza) MANDATORY CREDIT
Updated: February 4, 2013 2:19AM
YUCAIPA, Calif. — At least eight people were killed and 38 were injured when a tour bus collided with two other vehicles about 6:30 p.m. Sunday on a mountainous stretch of highway about 80 miles east of Los Angeles.
California Highway Patrol spokesman Mario Lopez confirmed the deaths and said 38 people were taken to hospitals with injuries. Lopez said the bus driver reported that he had brake problems as he headed down the mountain on two-lane State Route 38. The bus rear-ended a sedan,then flipped over and hit a pickup truck that was pulling a trailer.
The passengers on the bus were part of a tour group from Tijuana, Mexico, and a representative from the Mexican consulate was at the crash scene, according to Michelle Profant, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation. “It’s really a mess up there with body parts,” Profant said.
San Bernardino County Fire Department spokesman Eric Sherwin said 27 people were treated at the scene. He said injuries varied from minor to life-threatening.
Sherwin didn’t know where the bus was headed. State Route 38 leads to Big Bear, a popular area that’s home to a ski resort.
People were still being extricated from the bus more than an hour after the crash, and rescuers were still searching the wreckage for victims hours later.
Television footage showed the bus sitting upright but turned sideways on the road.
Lettering on the bus indicated that it was operated by Scapadas Magicas LLC, a company based in National City, Calif. Federal transportation records show that the company is licensed to carry passenger for interstate travel and that it had no crashes in the past two years. A call to the company was not immediately returned.
The California crash comes less than a day after a bus carrying 42 high school students and their chaperones slammed into an overpass in Boston. Massachusetts state police said 35 people were injured and that the driver had directed the bus onto a road with a height limit.