The National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday that the bus driver killed in a Palm Springs freeway crash last year that also took the lives of 12 of his passengers was sleep deprived when the crash occurred.
The NTSB convened to discuss the probable cause of the Oct. 23, 2016, crash that killed Teodulo Elias Vides and 12 others when his bus slammed into the back of a stopped big rig on Interstate 10. The bus had taken gamblers on a junket to the Red Earth Casino in Thermal and was en route back to the Los Angeles area when it crashed into the truck’s trailer just after 5 a.m.
NTSB members said Vides had barely slept leading up to the wreck and crashed despite having about 20 seconds to see the truck before ramming into it at 76 mph. Investigators say Vides had slept about four hours in the 35 hours preceding the crash.
The details on Vides’ fatigue come just two weeks after the truck driver, Bruce Guilford, was charged with more than 40 counts, including vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving, for stopping his truck on the freeway after also allegedly being sleep deprived. Guilford was on the second of two consecutive round trips from Alabama to California when the crash occurred and had falsified his driver logs to hide the amount of hours he’d spent on the road, an arrest warrant declaration alleged.
California Highway Patrol Officer Scott Parent said Guilford was “not the party determined to be most at fault for this collision,” though falling asleep behind the wheel “was a substantial factor in the deaths of 13 individuals.”