The survivors of a bus crash that happened in Southern California Sunday night are still reeling as police and other investigators try to determine the exact cause of the accident, which killed eight people and injured more than three dozen people. Fifteen of the people who were hurt suffered major injuries, including the driver, while the others were described as moderate to minor. But it's likely that all 38 of the passengers are wondering how such an accident could have happened.
The bus was traveling from Tijuana, Mexico, to the San Bernardino Mountains when it collided with a car and a pickup truck around 6:30 p.m. Early reports said the brakes on the bus went out, causing the vehicle to go out of control down a mountain road at estimated speeds of up to 60 mph before crashing into a sedan. The bus then rolled over and hit a pickup truck heading toward it up the hill. The driver later told police that the bus' brakes were faulty.
The bus company has a poor safety inspection record, having failed more than one-third of federal inspections in the past two years. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which posts inspection reports, listed 22 violations for the company, including problems with brakes, windshields and tires. While the national average for similar bus companies is a 21 percent rate of inspection failures, the buses belonging to this company failed 36 percent of random inspections. Nevertheless, the FMCSA gave the company a rating of "satisfactory."
Investigators haven't made an official determination of whether the accident was caused by mechanical failure or driver error, but those injured will want to stay attuned to any developments. Whoever is found liable for the accident may be subject to numerous personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits, which could compensate victims and their families for medical, funeral and burial expenses.
Source: Mercury News, "Passenger describes terror before Calif crash," Tami Abdollah, Feb. 4, 2013
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