The driver of a tour bus that careened down a narrow mountain roadway in Yucaipa before flipping and killing eight people, was arrested Wednesday on charges of vehicular manslaughter, prosecutors said.
Norberto Bravo Perez, 55, was charged with eight felony counts of vehicular manslaughter and, if convicted of all charges, faces up to 15 years in prison, according to the San Bernardino district attorney’s office.
Perez was driving the tour bus on Feb. 3, 2013, along California 38 from Big Bear to Tijuana, Mexico, when it struck a sedan, smashed into a pickup truck and overturned.
Some of the 38 passengers were tossed out of the bus, while others were trapped inside. More than 30 others were injured in the collision.
According to the complaint filed Nov. 3 in San Bernardino County Superior Court, Perez was “driving a vehicle in the commission of a lawful act, which might have produced death, in an unlawful manner and with gross negligence.”
Investigators with the California Highway Patrol later determined that “100 percent of the brakes” on the motorcoach were defective in some way, according to a report by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The NTSB’s inquiry also found that the bus operator, Scapadas Magicas, was scheduled for a yearly inspection shortly before the crash, but the bus involved in the collision was not presented for inspection. Public records show that the bus operator had a poor safety record in the years leading up to the crash and was placed on a federal watch list that flagged its buses for increased roadside inspections.
Perez was arrested at the San Ysidro Port of Entry and was being housed in a San Bernardino County jail, records show. It’s unclear whether he was being represented by an attorney.
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