On Sunday morning, at approximately 5:17 a.m., a tour bus that was returning from a casino in Thermal, CA crashed into a freight truck in Palm Springs. The accident resulted in 13 people losing their lives and 31 others suffering injuries that ranged from minor to critical. The bus driver was among those who died.
The accident, which occurred on I-10, involved a bus that slammed into the back of a truck at high speeds. The front third portion of the bus was crushed and the big rig trailer entered 15 feet into the bus following impact. The results were catastrophic and the situation is made even worse by the fact that “swift extraction” has left the identities of the victims largely unknown. It could take days before victims are identified as many were not carrying ID cards and many were separated from their belongings.
The cause of the accident is not immediately known, although both the California Highway Patrol and the National Transportation Safety Board are currently investigating into the possibility of drugs, alcohol, or fatigue. CHP Border Division Chief Jim Abele said “[they] just don’t have all the pieces to the puzzle.”
Survivors of the crash have sustained a wide range of injuries, with many suffering facial trauma affecting the soft tissue and bone. Doctors have stated that they are looking for internal injuries and plastic surgeons have been called in to operate on the survivors. 14 adult patients (5 in critical condition) were taken to the Desert Regional Medical Center, 11 adult patients with minor injuries were taken to the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, and 5 adult patients with minor injuries (including strains, cuts, and abrasions) were taken to the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio.
The 1996 MCI bus involved in the accident was operated by USA Holiday, a company that federal records show as owning only one bus and employing only one driver. The bus had been inspected in 2014, 2015, and in April of this year with no reported mechanical issues. The company is also reported to have been inspected by federal transportation officials last year with a satisfactory rating.
The accident is being reported as one of the deadliest crashes in California history.
"In almost 35 years, I've never been to a crash where there's been 13 confirmed fatals. It's tough…you never get used to this,” said CHP Border Division Chief Jim Abele.