A tour bus that drove off the 210 Freeway and overturned in Irwindale on Thursday lost control when its driver made an unsafe lane change and clipped another car, the California Highway Patrol said.
Witnesses said they saw the bus brake hard before swerving across multiple lanes of the eastbound 210 and ending up on its side. In the moments afterward, several onlookers rushed in to pull passengers from the broken-out windshield of the bus.
One of the witnesses described the passengers as “very quiet” and in a state of shock as they were pulled through the window one-by-one.
CHP investigators determined the bus tried to merge into the lane to its left when its left front end clipped the rear of a Hyundai Elantra driving next to it. After colliding with the Elantra, the bus driver swerved to the right, lost control and crashed.
Five passengers on the bus suffered “pretty basic blunt-force trauma injuries,” doctors said.
The passengers were among a group of eight who were determined to need immediate medical attention after they were removed from the bus, said Dr. Leo Rodriguez of Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.
In all, more than 50 people were injured and the freeway was closed for about an hour in both directions when the bus crashed about 10 a.m. Thursday.
The number of injured fluctuated in the hours after the crash, but CHP officials said Friday morning there were 52 people on the bus, including the driver who suffered a minor injury.
The injuries were described as being minor to moderate, although seven passengers were airlifted to local hospitals. The driver of the Elantra was not injured.
The bus was headed to San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino in Highland after picking up passengers in Monterey Park and San Gabriel.
Rodriguez said the patients he treated ranged in age from 60 to 80.
“They were in pain from their injuries,” Rodriguez said.
The westbound lanes of the 210 Freeway were reopened about 11 a.m., all lanes but one were reopened for eastbound traffic by 5 p.m., CHP officials said.
There have been no arrests.