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Big-rig driver charged in deadly tour bus crash that killed 13

The crash last year in Desert Hot Springs left 13 people dead and many others injured.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The driver of a big-rig involved in the tour bus crash in Desert Hot Springs last year that killed 13 people was arrested Thursday in connection with the deadly collision.

Prosecutors charged Bruce Guilford, 51, with 42 felony and misdemeanor counts, including vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and reckless driving causing injury, according to the Riverside County district attorney’s office.

Almost exactly a year ago, Guilford fell asleep behind the wheel of his big-rig with his parking brakes set when California Highway Patrol officers temporarily stopped traffic on Interstate 10 for construction. When they reopened lanes, Guilford did not move.

That’s when a Los Angeles-bound tour bus carrying passengers from Red Earth casino in Thermal plowed into the back of the big-rig at 76 mph, prosecutors said.

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Thirteen people aboard the bus, including its driver, were killed, and 29 people were injured in the crash.

Investigators determined that in the days leading up to the crash, Guilford violated 20 hours-of-service regulations, which are designed to keep fatigued drivers off the road. Prosecutors said Guilford regularly violated maximum driving-time regulations and lied about it on his daily log.

Guilford was arrested in Georgia by the U.S. Marshal Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force and is being held on $500,000 bail.

Federal officials have said the tour bus did not comply with vehicle safety standards because two of its eight tires lacked sufficient tread. The bus, a 1996 model manufactured by Motor Coach Industries, had no seat belts and did not appear to have braked before the collision.

alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

Twitter: @AleneTchek

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