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California Tour Bus Crash Kills 13, Injures 31

Oct 27, 2016
California Tour Bus Crash Kills 13, Injures 31

A horrific auto accident involving a tour bus and tractor trailer near Palm Springs, California left 13 people dead and another 31 injured. The crash is one of the deadliest in California history within several decades. Reportedly, the 1996 MCI bus operated by USA Holiday was transporting passengers back to Los Angeles from Red Earth Casino near Salton Sea. The accident happened on Oct. 23 at around 5:17 a.m. PDT, when the tour bus apparently slammed into the back of a big rig.

The front of the tour bus sustained severe damage. The fact that it was crumpled and largely destroyed suggests that the bus was moving much faster than the truck, officials said according to LA Times. However, it is too soon to determine whether or not the bus driver, who died in the crash, was speeding.

State police say the tour bus had "no appearance of braking" when it collided with the rear of the tractor trailer, according to CNN. "There were no skid marks from the bus at the time of the collision," said California Highway Patrol Border Division Chief Jim Abele to CNN reporters. "The only skid marks were directly related to the big rig as it got pushed forward."

The accident killed 12 passengers and the bus driver. Ten of the victims who died were women and three were men, according to the Riverside County Coroner's Bureau. The cause of the accident is still unknown, and is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

"In almost 35 years I've never been to a crash where there's been 13 confirmed fatalities," said Abele. "So, it's tough, it's tough for all of us."

The bus did not have seat belts, officials said. Therefore, some of the passengers suffered facial injuries that may require plastic surgery, said Dr. Ricard Townsend at Desert Regional Medical Center.

Officials are hoping to recover a data recorder that would show how fast the bus was moving at the time of the accident. However, the 1996 vehicle may not have one. Investigators are looking into whether a medical emergency, drugs or alcohol, or mechanical failure factored into the crash. "Essentially, we just don't have all the pieces to the puzzle," said Abele, according to LA Times. "We may not be able to determine exactly why the accident occurred because the driver has been killed."

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