Investigators said Friday they are working to determine whether a crime occurred when a casino tour bus fled the scene where he ran over and killed a pedestrian the previous day in University Park.
The Samho Tour & Travel bus was eventually found at a storage yard in Gardena late Thursday night, hours after its driver fatally struck and dragged a man near the corner of Flower Street and Adams Boulevard, according to Los Angeles Police Detective Moses Castillo. The vehicle has since been towed to an LAPD facility to be processed as evidence.
Both the driver and company are cooperating in the investigation.
A forensic analysis of the bus turned up blood and body tissue that "indicates that we do have the correct bus in our custody," Castillo said.
The ensuing probe will hinge on whether the man behind the wheel was aware a pedestrian had been hit.
The victim, described by police as a 77-year-old transient, was dragged more than 900 feet following the impact before being dislodged at Adams Boulevard. Palm prints were found on the side of the bus, officials said.
Because the crash scene is near the Metro station at 23rd Street, and the victim had a Metro card on him, detectives believe he may have been trying to get to the platform.
"Maybe he was rushed, and maybe the pedestrian didn't time it right, where he was trying to get to the train and maybe his foot got stuck underneath and he got sucked in underneath the bus," Castillo said. "Those are all things that we're going to explore."
One witness told investigators she saw someone underneath the bus holding on, "like he was clinging for his life," Castillo said.
The woman said she honked in an attempt to get the driver's attention, but he didn't respond or stop.
Because there's no damage to the bus' front end, detectives believe it is possible the driver was not aware someone was run over.
"We do know that he's a very well-respected driver for his company," Castillo said. "He's been there a long time."
Fatigue may turn out to be a factor, the detective added, because the man he had just completed a four-day trip in which he drove a bus more than 2,000 miles.
Investigators said they want to finish processing evidence before interviewing the driver, which is expected to happen in the coming days.