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Tour Bus Had Poor Safety Record Before Crash

NEAR YUCAIPA, Calif. — The investigation into a tour deadly bus crash continues, amid revelations that the bus and its owner had been cited repeatedly for safety issues.

The death toll has been revised to seven, with many others still hospitalized.

Mentone Fatal Tour Bus CrashThe coroner has identified six of the seven victims of the crash, which happened around 6:30 p.m. Sunday on State Route 38 near Yucaipa.

They include Guadalupe Olivas, 61; Elvira Garcia Jimenez, 40; and Victor Cabrera Garcia, 13, all from San Diego.

Also killed were Mario Garcia Santoyo, 32; Aleida Adriana Arce Hernandez, 38; and Rubicelia Escobedo Flores, 34, all from Tijuana, Mexico.

The tour bus, owned by Scapadas Magicas, of National City, left Tijuana early Sunday with 38 passengers, including children, authorities said.

It was descending from the ski resort town of Big Bear Lake when the driver apparently lost control about four miles from Yucaipa.

The bus clipped a small Saturn sedan before it veered into oncoming traffic and began to roll, crushing an oncoming Ford pickup before coming to rest.

Passengers who were not wearing seat belts were tossed from the bus. Backpacks, clothing and body parts were strewn across the crash site.

All of those killed were bus passengers, according to the California Highway Patrol.

“It is a gruesome and horrible scene,” said Officer Leon Lopez, spokesman for the CHP. “It’s one of the most horrific scenes I’ve ever seen in 10 years with the department.”

The dozens of injured were transported to at least four local hospitals. Some suffered minor injuries and were treated and released.

Two passengers, including a child, remained in critical condition at Loma Linda University Medical Center.

There were three people inside the sedan who escaped serious injury. The driver of the pickup truck had to be cut out of his vehicle.

Investigators believe that a problem with the bus’ brakes may be to blame for the crash.

The driver, as well as passengers, reported that the bus was experiencing mechanical problems before the accident occurred.

Officials have interviewed the bus driver, identified as Norberto B. Perez, 52, of San Ysidro, but have not released his account of what happened.

Meantime, records show that the bus and its owner, Scapadas Magicas, had been cited repeatedly in recent months for poor maintenance.

In October, Scapadas Magicas was cited for eight deficiencies found during a roadside check of the vehicle.

Those included a damaged windshield and lack of a properly installed fire extinguisher.

In July, the same bus was cited for a damaged windshield, as well as a faulty axle and brakes. In May, its wheel fasteners were loose or missing.

In all, federal inspectors found 59 violations on Scapadas Magicas’ buses in the last two years, U.S. Department of Transportation safety records show.

As a result, the Transportation Department had placed Scapadas Magicas on a watch list that prioritized its buses for intervention and roadside inspections.

Maria McDade, who said she was Scapadas Magicas’ administrator for more than 20 years before retiring last year, said none of the company’s buses had ever been in an accident.

She also said that, aside from a fine of $2,500, the company had complied with all Department of Transportation regulations.

The tour bus was operating under a contract with Tijuana-based InterBus Tours. The agency suspended its operations on Monday.

In a message on its Facebook page, InterBus Tours expressed regret for the accident and said that is contractor was insured.

Sales Manager Jordi Garcia said the agency’s insurance would be handling burial expenses for the deceased.

He said that the company had been open for a year and offered daily trips to Disneyland, Six Flags Magic Mountain and Universal Studios.

Big Bear was also a popular destination this time of year, according to Garcia, and the cost of the excursion was $40.

He said the business contracts with independently owned bus operators and that they are responsible for complying with all U.S. and Mexican regulations.

Garcia said that the agency has never had a problem in the past with any of the operators with whom they contract.

Information from The Los Angeles Times

32 comments

  • new user

    Audrey. I can see what your saying… Sheila`s bl0g is inconceivable, on thursday I bought Mitsubishi Evo sincee geting a check for $8735 this – 5 weeks past and even more than ten/k this past month. this is definitely the nicest-job I have ever had. I began this six months/ago and right away brought home minimum $87… p/h. I follow the details here,, http://google.com.qr.net/j7Ma

  • sam

    And this is why we should not let Bus's from Mexico or Semi Trucks from Mexico drive on American roads. They do not follow the same safety rules as us. If the driver had reported Brake problems then he should have tried to pull over. This bus was not inspected before it was driven and now people are dead. Funny how our government lets bus's from Mexico drive on our roads, but you can't drive in Mexico unless you purchase EXPENSIVE additional insurance. If this had happened over the boarder the driver would be in jail not the hospital. Ironic, Tragic and just plain stupid!

    • Dave

      Hmmm the last I remembered National City is in San Diego. The bus was not from Mexico. You really need to read the article a little more clearly before you ramble on with you conclusion.

    • ABS SOLANO

      HEY BODY, I TRAVELED IN GREYHOUND, I MEAN GREJYUNK, THE BUSES ARE A GARBAGE, YOU SUPPOSE, YOUR GOVERNMENT HAS FOLLOWED STRICTLY SAFETY RULES, COME ON, BEGINS FROM THE BEGIN…. SAY NO TO RACISM

  • sue

    while its very sad people died and were hurt but sams right they shouldnt be driving on our roads theyre vehicals are not safe and they dont know how to drive!!!

  • Dave

    3200 Highland Ave Ste 313, National City, CA 91950 National City.

    How is this bus based in Mexico? If the bus is based in the US, it goes through safety inspections which is done by the California Highway Patrol Commercial Division.

    In my opinion, the driver probably rode his brakes down the mountain until they heated up and experienced brake fade.

    • Bonnie

      That would be my guess. When I'm driving a bus on a descent, it's 4th or 3rd gear anytime I feel it accelerating a bit. You lose the hydraulics and you're toast

  • Concerned

    Dave has too much time on this hands. ;) RIP to the victims and prayers to the families. It does appear to be driver error. That is a very tough road to drive a sports car on yet alone a bus. Only a seasoned driver should be on that road.

  • Guest

    American Bus, Mexican Bus, makes no difference I do not think they are maintained as much as they should be.

    My condolences to family and friends of the victims.

    May the injured have a quick recovery.

  • Original OG

    Guest who are you to say they are maintained as much as they should be, are you the owner. Evidently not if the brakes went out. Mexico is just about the money they would put anything on the road. Are they the same people who owned the plane that killed the singer.I agree with Sam, keep them off are roads.

    • Guest

      Did you NOT READ what I wrote?

      I said…"American Bus, Mexican Bus, makes no difference I do not think they are maintained as much as they should be….

  • Paul

    The bus was not headed back to T.J. it was headed to east L.A. where we would now be responsible for welfare to 80 more illegal immigrants.

    • No matter my name

      How sad that this news will turn into fools or racist comments, what happened happened and now it is time to pray for the victims.

  • Maurice

    as Manuel answered I am surprised that you able to profit $7849 in one month on the computer. did you see this web page FLY38. ℂOM

  • observer

    i work in national city, and it might as well be mexico… the roads aren't safe here. Nothing racist, but you have one style of driving in mexico, one style of driving in california… every region has its own style of driving. (for example, my husband is from the south, and it is normal for them to go 65 in the fast lane. so when he came to california and started driving 65 in the fast lane, he almost got in an accident, because people in san diego drive 80 in most lanes.) I'm from the IE (about 15 minutes from where this happened) and I can tell you that a.) that road is dangerous no matter HOW you drive, and b.) people drive way differently up there than they do in National City. So no matter whether the driver was from Mexico or National City, he/she was probably not very well-suited to be transporting a bus full of people on that road.

  • DesertJake

    The driver probably over heated the brakes. In a large bus or truck you cannot just ride the brake down a mountain. You will heat them up or smoke them, set them on fire even, then they will not work. You also have to go slow!!!! Slower than the speed limit for cars.

  • ABS SOLANO

    SOME ONE ELSE SAY NO TO RACISM? I LIVE IN MEXICO, (MEXICALI) WE NEED EXTREMELY HARD TRAFFIC RULES , BUT THEN, THE ACCIDENTS HAPPEN EVERYWHERE,NO MATTER WHO DROVE, ASK FOR GOD'S MERCY GOD, FOR THE FAMILIES RECOVERY

  • Gene Rodmy

    Asians have a rep for bad driving. But, if you have an aquaintance in socal involved in an accident, it is all too easy to guess what happened: hit by a drunk… well… you know.

  • dirtdogs

    We were minutes behind this bus. Did not see the crash but heard some witness accounts which suggest brake failure. It was a clear day, road conditions were good, but there was a fair amount of traffic coming down the mt. My husband went to help at the scene, he is an MD. There were a couple of other 'civilian' volunteers who were likely off-duty EMT or ER nurses. I'm not going to describe what he saw but it was carnage. He's still pretty traumatized and he's been in medicine for 30 yrs. Many of those who survived are in pretty bad shape, inc the pickup driver who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The first responders will be traumatized for a very long time. This was very tragic.

  • Ron Melancon

    It you think this is bad you must know that Federal Inspections are failing and our own Government has no clue. Go to dangeroustrailers.org and know last year over 340 lives destroyed over 12,000 injured by ordinary people who tow trailers. We point out that if a for profit company can't keep their buses safe why do we let people row Homemade Trailers that destroys cops and ordinary children, adults, and horses?

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