South Bay Bus Company Involved in Fatal Crash Near Yucaipa

More than 40 people were injured in the accident, connected to a National City-based company; brake failure is suspected.

A crash Sunday involving a chartered tour bus from Tijuana and two other vehicles on Highway 38, near Mentone in San Bernardino County, has left at least eight people dead and dozens of people injured, authorities said.

The crash on Highway 38 – called Mill Creek Road by area residents – near Bryant Street near Yucaipa in the San Bernardino Forest was reported at 6:34 p.m., according to San Bernardino County Fire Department spokesman Eric Sherwin.

The tour bus, identified by the San Diego Union-Tribune as being owned by National City-based Scapadas Magicas and operated by Tijuana-based InterBus Tours, apparently hit two other vehicles and rolled over, fire department Battalion Chief Ronald Walls said in a broadcast report.

Later reports said the bus ran into the back of the sedan, overturned and plowed into a vehicle with the trailer.

In all, 43 people were involved in the crash, 38 passengers and the driver on the bus and two each in the other vehicles, Walls said.

A triage area was set up to treat critically injured people at the scene, authorities said.

The bus apparently was taking tourists from Tijuana home following a trip to Big Bear that included snowboarding, Caltrans official Terri Kasinga said in television interview.

Kasinga said a representative of the Mexican consulate also was at the scene.

Sherwin told City News Service the injury total included "multiple fatalities."

A number of the fatally and critically injured people were thrown from the bus as it overturned, authorities said.

Witness Betty Harvey, a local resident who was driving behind the bus, said in a broadcast report that the bus was moving slowly down Highway 38 from Big Bear with a line of cars behind it as the bus driver avoided using turnouts to let other vehicles by.

She eventually drove by the bus on a two-lane passing area, Harvey said.

Not long after, Harvey said, the bus appeared behind her at a rate of speed that made her think it was having brake trouble and she pulled over to let it pass.

Within minutes, she came upon the bus crash scene, Harvey said.

"People were waving and screaming," she said. "It was quite horrific."

InterBus official Jodi Garcia told the U-T that initial examinations point to brake failure as the cause of the crash.

"The information that we have is that the buses' brakes failed and the accident occurred," Garcia said.

Sherwin said some people were trapped inside the overturned bus and had to be extricated by emergency personnel.

It was too early in the investigation to know if impaired driving played a role in the deadly crash, Sherwin said.

Highway 38, one of three access roads to Big Bear, will be closed from Forest Falls to Mentone for at least 24 hours, according to authorities.


– City News Service


Libi Uremovic February 04, 2013 at 04:09 PM
'...the bus appeared behind her at a rate of speed ...Within minutes, she came upon the bus crash scene,...' that happened to me once on the 805....about a dozen kids passed me on motorcycles.....flying down the highway, weaving in and out of traffic... ....a few miles down the road i came upon the crash scene.... buses have emergency brakes and the driver could have downshifted to slow down the bus.... ...of course i'm assuming that buses still have things like emergency brakes and the ability to downshift.....and drivers that know how to operate the vehicle...
Ed Sorrels February 04, 2013 at 10:27 PM
Libi, Busses do have what ammounts to emergency brakes, They are called Maxi brakes and they are made to apply the foundation (Or Wheel ) brakes that use the same pads as the regular brakes at the wheel ends, There very few of the old style driveline brakes anymore even on cars. Several probable causes are #1 Worn or overheated linning #2 incorrect brake application by driver when coming down a grade#3 brakes out of adjustment # 4 insufficent air pressure to fully apply brakes see # 2 and there other reasons for this one. #5 Water not drained from primary and secondary air tanks leading to insufficent air volume to fully apply brakes. The CHP will figure it out, But actuall brake failures are rare these days and then when they do accidentaly fail they apply the brakes as the whole brake systems are set up on the idea of fail safe, Mostly they are caused by maintenence failures, They wern't correctly maintained and adjusted !
Ed Sorrels February 05, 2013 at 06:08 AM
They are taking this very seriously, There is a N.T.S.B. team on the way out to investigate this one just like a plane crash ! I would bet money it is either a failure to maintain the vehicle in operabale condition or a driver failure. For many years now the large vehicles have been constructed and engineered so that any mechanical failure of the brake system would result in the vehicle coming to a rapid stop that a compenent driver could control this is the Maxi system that engages the wheel end foundation brakes with a Really heavy duty spring instead of air. The average application pressure is around 2200 lb's of pressure to the brake piston but it can be more depending on the size of the Maxi can.


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