Fatal tour bus crash: Troubled bus company had been cited repeatedly

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A tour bus crash on a narrow mountain road near Yucaipa, Calif., on Sunday night that killed at least eight people and injured more than 30 others involved a bus company with a troubled safety record.

The bus bore a U.S. Department of Transportation identification number that linked it to Scapadas Magicas, a small company in National City, Calif., with three drivers.

The company has been cited repeatedly in recent years for problems, including brake and tire issues. Federal authorities said 75% of carriers in the same class have a better safety record.

PHOTOS: Highway 38 tour bus crash


As a result of the findings from roadside inspections, the U.S. Department of Transportation had placed Scapadas Magicas on a watch list that prioritized its buses for intervention and roadside inspection.

The driver of the bus in Sunday’s crash, as well as passengers, reported that the vehicle was experiencing mechanical problems when the accident occurred, authorities said.

The bus had departed from Tijuana early Sunday and was returning from Big Bear when it crashed about 6:30 p.m. on California Highway 38. The collision involved the bus, a truck and a sedan, officials said.

Some people were ejected from the bus; others were trapped inside. Because of the severity of the crash, it was difficult for rescue workers to immediately identify exactly how many people were killed.

California Highway Patrol spokesman Mario Lopez said late Sunday that all of the known fatalities appeared to come from the bus, which was a charter carrying 38 passengers, including children. The sedan was carrying three people, and the truck had one occupant, officials said. California Department of Transportation spokeswoman Michelle Profant said the bus lost control while going down a mountain road and rolled over the truck at least once, crushing it.

The trip had been organized by InterBus Tours, according to a Facebook posting by the company. The post said: ‘We deeply regret this happened.’


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-- Garrett Therolf Photo: Investigators work at the scene where at least eight people were killed after a tour bus leaving Big Bear careened out of control. Credit: Nick Ut / Associated Press