Investigation Continues in Fatal California Bus Crashby Jana Ritter - Published: 8/03/2016
After a fatal bus crash killed four people and left 18 injured in central California Tuesday, investigators have been working to figure out what suddenly caused the vehicle to veer off the highway and smash into a pole, literally slicing the bus down the middle.
January 05, 2018 - Trucker Faces 20 Years After Pleading Guilty To Smuggling Alien Found Dead In Locked Toolbox
January 02, 2018 - Police Identify 2 Oregon Truck Drivers Killed In Fiery Head-On Crash
December 27, 2017 - Iowa First Of Eight States To Debut New Truck Parking Information System
What we do know is that at around 3:30 am on Tuesday morning, the Estrella Blanca bus was traveling north on State Route 99, through California farm country and it was only a few miles from its next stop in Livingston. The Livingston stop was also where the bus was scheduled to change drivers before continuing on its route. Speculation has already pointed at the driver, 57-year-old Mario David Vasquez of Los Angeles, some saying he had been on the job driving after only 3 or 4 hours of sleep, others saying he had been suffering severe depression after recently losing his wife to cancer. Whatever the case may be, investigators haven’t yet been able to speak to Vasquez because of the extent of his injuries.
According to passenger Nakia Coleman, (who had been returning from Mexico to her home in Pasco, Washington) the bus driver had been trying to pass another vehicle just moments before the crash and apparently expected the motorist to yield but that person would not let him merge. "It kind of ran him off the road," she said. Coleman had gone to Mexico clear her head after losing a son to suicide and was finally returning home only to be involved in a horrific accident that killed her dog and left her injured with images she will never forget. The next thing she knew “the pole went straight through the middle of the bus.” Not only was she pinned in her seat about two feet behind the interstate sign pole, a male passenger who was instantly killed had been pushed on top of her. She managed to pull herself out from the wreckage when emergency crews began smashing out the windows.
Leonardo Sanchez had been sleeping peacefully when he was suddenly thrown face-first into the back of the seat in front of him. "There was lots of screaming and crying," Sanchez recalled. Merced County Sheriff, Vern Warnke said rescuers also had a difficult time dealing with the immediate aftermath of the wreck. They were literally pulling "bags of body parts" from the bus along with survivors, ranging from about eight people who managed to survive relatively unharmed to those with moderate injuries to those with severed limbs. Some victims were thrown out of the bus and landed in a ditch. In all, four people died and 18 people were admitted to hospitals, three initially in critical condition.
As of May 17, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration gave the carrier a "satisfactory" rating and when the bus itself was inspected in April, it had been given three violations, including a lack of or a defective brake-warning device.