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Bus Checked After Crash Hurts Marines

Times Staff Writer

An investigation is continuing into the cause of a bus accident Monday that injured 10 Marines and the civilian driver.

According to California Highway Patrol Officer Richard Clopine, specialists from the agency are inspecting the shuttle bus, which was transporting 16 Marines from Lindbergh Field to Camp Pendleton, as well as the accident site on Interstate 5 to determine whether mechanical defects contributed to the tire blowout that led to the crash. A final report will be released today, Clopine said.

Staff Sgt. John Midgette, a Camp Pendleton spokesman, said Tuesday that the Marines Corps is not investigating the crash because it occurred out of the Corps’ jurisdiction and involved a privately owned and operated bus company, Pier Group. The crash occurred just north of Clairemont Drive.

“All they do is provide a service for the Marines who want to get from the airport to the base,” Midgette said. “The guys using the shuttle service have to pay a fee; (the company is) not under contract with the Corps.”

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Pier Group, based in El Cajon, has been open less than a year and is specifically designed to transport military personnel from the airport to Camp Pendleton, said general manager Lisa Vertelney. She said the company’s three 15-passenger buses are inspected daily for mechanical and electrical problems.

“We have a checkoff list that the driver goes through every morning before his run,” Vertelney said. “After he’s finished, myself or one of the other managers goes down to the buses and through the list to double-check everything. If anything’s wrong, the bus goes to the mechanic.”

Vertelney said there shouldn’t have been any problems with the bus involved in the crash.

“It was checked out before it left the lot,” she said. “The CHP said the tires were a little thinner than they would have liked to have seen, but not thin enough to pull the bus off the road--they definitely weren’t bald.”

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The injured were taken to several area hospitals, where they were treated and released, the CHP said.


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