RTD Bus and Truck Collide; Drivers, 24 Passengers Hurt

Times Staff Writers

A Southern California Rapid Transit District bus and a tractor-trailer truck collided Monday afternoon at a busy intersection in Vernon, injuring both drivers and at least 24 bus passengers.

Vernon police said the truck was traveling northbound on Santa Fe Avenue and was attempting to make a left turn at 38th Street when it collided with the southbound bus at 3:22 p.m.

The force of the collision knocked out the front windows of the bus, collapsing the framework around the driver's compartment and catapulting several passengers into the seats in front of them and into the aisles.

Most Treated, Released

The Vernon Fire Department called several ambulances to the scene, and 21 people were taken to three hospitals: County-USC Medical Center, White Memorial Medical Center and Santa Marta Medical Center.

Hospital authorities later said most were released after examination and first-aid treatment. Seven were admitted for observation, and RTD bus driver Josephine S. Petry was admitted to County-USC for treatment of neck injuries and a broken nose.

Paramedics said five other passengers were treated at the scene.

"Except for the driver," paramedic Bill Loeb said, "all of the injuries here seemed to be minor. But there sure were a lot of them."

RTD spokesman Greg Davy said that another bus was driven to the scene and that passengers who did not wish to be taken to hospitals were loaded aboard to complete their trips. The bus was assigned to Route 61, which connects Vernon with downtown Los Angeles, he said.

Traffic in the area was tied up for much of the rush hour but finally cleared at about 6 p.m., according to Vernon Police Lt. Jim Mason, who said the cause of the accident is under investigation.

He said interviews with witnesses and passengers on the bus indicate that the driver of the truck failed to yield the right of way to the bus. The truck driver was not cited.

"The driver of the bus had no choice but to slam on the brakes and collide," Mason said.

Times staff writers Craig Quintana and Frederick M. Muir contributed to this story.

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