Early morning on Sunday, October 23, a tour bus returning to Los Angeles from Red Earth Casino in Salton Sea Beach ran into an 18-wheeler. The truck was driving only 5 mph when the bus rear-ended it, killing 13 people and injuring 31 others. First responders had to pull 15 feet of the front of the bus out of the semi to retrieve victims.
Both the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating the crash, the deadliest in the state since 2006. Investigators will not “speculate about a cause” this early in the case, but information released by the CHP suggests no appearance of braking on the part of the tour bus.
The accident occurred at 5:17 a.m. along Interstate 10 in Desert Hot Springs. Regular tours to Red Earth Casino were offered by the tour company, USA Holiday. The driver/owner of the company, Teodulo Elias Vides, was among the crash fatalities. The truck driver, Bruce Guilford, survived.
The CHP noted that utility work in the area had slowed down and stopped traffic and the bus was driving “significantly faster” than the truck at the time of impact. Additionally, NTSB investigators have noted that the bus tire treads were non-compliant with Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance standards.
NTSB investigators plan to be at the scene for the next week. They will examine the remains of both vehicles for possible mechanical issues as well as look into whether fatigue, drug or alcohol use or any medical conditions on the part of the bus driver contributed to the collision. They also will look into weather conditions, lighting on the road and the effects of the utility work that was being done at the time.