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18 Injured as Bus, Truck Crash in Intersection Near Downtown : Accident: Two people are listed in serious condition. Witnesses say driver of the pickup ran a red light.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Eighteen people were injured Saturday, two seriously, when a crowded Southern California Rapid Transit District bus crossing a downtown intersection slammed into a pickup truck that witnesses said failed to stop for a red light.

The truck’s driver, Mario Hernandez, 27, and his wife, Guadelupe Gomez, 28, were reported in serious condition at County-USC Medical Center after the 12:12 p.m. accident at Broadway and 18th Street. Their two children, a 2-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl, were listed in stable condition at the medical center.

Many of the 49 people on the bus complained of back and neck pain after the collision, but only two were taken to a hospital, said Jose Garcia, an accident scene investigator.

Maria Lopez, 76, and Angela Velasco, 46, were treated at White Memorial Hospital.

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Twelve other people were treated at the scene by paramedics for minor injuries, Garcia said.

Five ambulances and five engine companies were called to the scene, where rescuers had to pry the truck’s driver free.

Garcia said witnesses told him that the Line 55 downtown bus was traveling east on 18th Street on a green light when the 1978 Chevrolet truck, heading south on Broadway, entered the intersection.

“We have several witnesses indicating that the bus was traveling within its rights,” Garcia said.

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The bus slammed into the right side of the truck, pushing it nearly 100 feet east on 18th Street before the truck ran into a telephone pole and street sign. The impact shattered the windshield and crumpled the hood of the truck nearly in half.

Damage to the bus was less severe. The driver’s side window was smashed, and the bus had long scratches and dents radiating out from the front bumper.

Garcia said he did not know whether drugs or alcohol contributed to the crash. He said he believed that the bus driver submitted to a drug test after the crash, as is required by RTD policy.

RTD spokesmen could not be reached for comment Saturday.

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Other recent accidents involving RTD buses also resulted in large numbers of injured.

In January, a van ran a stop sign and struck an RTD bus broadside in the City Terrace area, injuring 23.

Last November, 17 people were hurt when a car bounced off a guardrail on the Pasadena Freeway and rammed into a bus, which traveled across several lanes of traffic before stopping.

Times staff writer Elaine Woo contributed to this story.

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