We wrote on the lack of regulation of the bus industry in another section of this issue and mentioned the crash of a tour bus in California. That wreck resulted in 13 deaths and brought a great deal of needed attention to the regulation problem. The families of two of the persons killed in the crash have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the bus company and its owner-driver who was among the fatalities. The families of 63-year-old Gustavo Garcia and 50-year-old Tony Mia, both of Los Angeles, filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Alhambra-based USA Holiday and the estate of Teodulo Elias Vides, the driver.
The 1996 MCI bus crashed into the back of a tractor-trailer at 5:17 a.m. on a Sunday along westbound Interstate 10. Traffic ahead of the bus had slowed, and the truck was only moving about 5 mph, according to the California Highway Patrol. Survivors included 31 bus passengers who were hurt. The victims were on their way home to Los Angeles after spending the night at the Red Earth Casino in the Salton Sea-area town of Thermal.
It is alleged in the complaint that Vides and his company were negligent, reckless and legally responsible for the “accident and the carnage.” The claims include “failing to travel at a safe rate of speed, failing to reduce speed (near) a construction zone, failing to keep a proper lookout and apply the brakes when coming upon a parked or disabled vehicle, failing to follow proper safety procedures (for maintaining) the tires on the vehicle, operating a bus that is not equipped with seat belts or safety restraint systems for passengers, and all other acts or omissions.”
The tread on half of the eight bus tires was too worn to pass a safety inspection, according to federal crash investigators. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member Earl Weener told a news conference that if the bus had undergone a recent inspection with tires in that condition, it could have been taken out of service. The cause of the accident remains under investigation. The possibly causes will include:
• Human factors, including the driver’s background, experience and licensing, and whether he was fatigued or had been drinking.
• Highway factors, including the roadway configuration, the traffic flow, lighting and signage.
• Vehicle factors, including the pre-crash condition of the bus and whether it was safe to drive.
• Motor carrier factors, including whether USA Holiday was operating legally, and if the bus had any onboard data-recording device.
The initial investigation revealed that there were no skid marks on the road to indicate a sudden brake application by the bus prior to the collision. USA Holiday is a small tour bus that primarily provided casino trips. This tragic incident points out the need for better regulation.
Source: San Gabriela Valley Tribune
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