In the early hours of Sunday morning, a tour bus loaded with dozens of passengers collided with a big rig near Palm Springs, California, killing 13 and injuring 31. Investigators are now tasked with the difficult job of determining exactly what caused the collision.
Early reports from state police officials claim that it does not appear that the bus’s brakes were applied at all before it slammed into the back of the commercial truck. The force of the impact and the speed of the bus, in comparison to the tractor trailer, was so great, the first couple rows of the bus’s seats were buried and crumpled under the trailer itself. The bus driver is among the 13 dead, and rescue crews found the majority of the deceased also at the front of the bus.
Survivors claimed that most of the passengers were sleeping at the time of the crash. It was just after 5:00 AM and the bus initially left a distant Casino about an hour prior. Initial speculations point to the bus driver also falling asleep behind the wheel, or at least experiencing considerable fatigue, since there appears to be no braking event.
POSSIBLE CONFLICTING REPORTS OF LIABILITY
The bus was owned and operated by USA Holiday, a company that was in fact run by the bus driver. It was the company’s only bus, logging about 70,000 miles a year, mostly making trips throughout Southern California. USA Holiday even boasts that it had been serving the region for more than 25 years. According to authorities, the bus passed all recent inspections, including one in April 2016. All of this preliminary evidence suggests the bus driver was highly-experienced. Could it be that the truck driver was actually to blame for the crash?
One woman told The Desert Sun (click here for their full article) that she saw, from her point of view a few lanes away, it appears as if the tractor trailer merged into the bus’s lane just before the crash. At that time, traffic was already slowed due to extensive road construction. If the woman’s testimony proves to be true, partial or total liability could fall on the trucking company.
At this point, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) experts will need to continue their investigations. Both vehicles are being stored at an undisclosed facility for inspections, which will be carried out by specialists from varying fields.
Morelli Law Firm is widely considered to be the nation’s top injury firm for trucking, bus, and other catastrophic crash cases, having handled the headline-grabbing Tracy Morgan v. Walmart truck accident case. We are interested in seeing how this bus-truck accident in Southern California plays out, and we offer our condolences to the survivors and the families of those who lost their lives. If you would like more information about our injury attorneys in New York, or need to retain their counsel, contact us today.