San Diego, CA- A tragic accident which occurred on February 4th took the lives of three San Diego residents as the loaded tour bus made its way through a mountainous pass in Big Bear after a sight-seeing tour in Tijuana, Mexico.
The final death toll was seven, five women, a man and boy. In the wake of the accident the safety record of the bus company came into question and initiated a NTSB investigation.
The events began to unfold that Monday night while the bus wound its way down a mountain pass. All of the sudden the bus began to pick up speed and, according to ABC news, the bus driver shouted at passengers to call 911. It appeared as though the brakes on the bus were failing, as the driver grapple to gain control of the vehicle, unsuccessfully.
The careening bus slammed into a Saturn sedan, swerved, then flipped over on its side, according to ABC news. An oncoming pickup truck then struck the bus righting it. Passengers were tossed out of broken windows.
“Everything happened so fast,” Gerardo Barrientos told ABC, “When the bus spun everything flew, even the people.”
In all sever people were killed, but dozens more were injured. Three of the deceased were from San Diego; they are Victor Cabrera-Garcia, 13: Elvira Garcia Jimenez, 40; and Guadalupe Olivas, 61. The four other fatal victims were from Tijuana.
Before being taken to the hospital, the driver, 52 year-old Norberto B. Perez, told authorities that the brakes had failed prior to the accident.
After the accident, authorities discovered that Scapadas Magicas LLC, the company, which operated the bus, had at least 20 safety violations since October of last year. Investigators form the NTSB went to San Diego to investigate the cause if the accident.
This was the second fatal tour bus crash in two months. The other occurred on Dec. 31st in Oregon. That accident was caused by snow and ice-covered roads. In all, 9 people were killed and at least twenty were injured.
In that accident the tour bus crashed through a guardrail and plummeted down an embankment, continuing to fall about 400 ft. before it became to a stop. The bus was traveling from Las Vegas, Nevada, making its way back to Vancouver, British Columbia.
Bus accidents are less common that passenger vehicle accidents, but the often result in a larger number of injuries and fatalities. According to a 2009 study, there were only 212 bus accidents compared to over 18,000 passenger vehicle accidents.
The majority of bus crashes can be attributed to driver error. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Administration, 15 out 19 bus crashes are attributed to driver error. However another common cause is the failure of brakes or other safety equipment. But in general busses are safer than motor vehicles since the companies have strict safety regulations they must adhere to, and if they don’t they can be held liable for the injuries or deaths that occur because of their negligence.
Tags: Abc News, Barrientos, Broken Windows, Bus Company, California Tour, Elvira Garcia, Final Death, Five Women, Garcia Jimenez, Magicas, Man And Boy, Ntsb Investigation, Safety Record, Safety Violations, San Diego Ca, San Diego Residents, Tijuana Mexico, Tour Bus Crash, Tragic Accident, Victor Cabrera