YUCAIPA, Calif. (AP) — A company linked to a tour bus involved in a crash in Southern California that killed at least eight people failed more than a third of federal vehicle safety inspections in the past two years, records obtained Monday show.
The cause of the Sunday crash east of Los Angeles remained under investigation. Dozens of people were injured.
The crash left State Route 38 littered with body parts and debris, and the bus sideways across both lanes with its windows blown out, front end crushed and part of the roof peeled back like a tin can.
It occurred when the speeding bus rear-ended a Saturn sedan on a mountain road, flipped and hit a Ford pickup truck, said California Highway Patrol spokesman Mario Lopez.
Investigators will determine if mechanical failure or driver error was to blame. The bus driver, who survived but was injured, told investigators the vehicle had brake problems.
"It appears speed was a factor in this collision," Lopez said.
Lettering on the 1996 bus indicated it was operated by Scapadas Magicas LLC, based in National City, Calif.
Federal transportation records show the company is licensed to carry passengers for interstate travel and that it had no crashes in the past two years.
However, buses operated by the firm flunked 36 percent of random inspections on its vehicles— in some cases for brake and tire problems, the U.S. government records indicate.
That's higher than the national average for similar companies — a 21 percent failure rate.
The California company had an overall "satisfactory" rating from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration — but records show three-quarters of similar companies had better safety records.
The bus was carrying dozens of men, women and children from Tijuana, Mexico, who had spent Sunday at a winter recreation area, authorities said.
Crews worked through the night to recover the dead, but one body remained aboard the bus early Monday, said Rocky Shaw, a San Bernardino County coroner's investigator.
Officials hadn't been able to retrieve the body because the front end of the bus was dangling over the edge of the roadside.
Investigators were trying to pick up any personal property to help identify victims.
More than three dozen people were injured, and at least 17 were still hospitalized, including at least five in critical condition. One is a girl.
One person in the pickup truck was injured. The fate of the passengers in the car was not clear, but at least two people were in the Saturn, Lopez said.
No one answered the door at the Scapadas Magicas office in a sprawling complex that houses more than 1,300 storage lockers and about 30 small offices. Greg Etter, general manager of Acropolis Space Center, said the company didn't run buses out of the facility. He declined to comment further on the tenant.
Continue reading this story on the...