Some of our readers may have heard that recently a tour bus on its way from a casino near the Salton Sea to Los Angeles crashed into the rear of a tractor trailer, killing thirteen people and injuring 31. Highway safety agencies at both the state and federal level are now beginning in-depth investigations into the cause of the collision, and their preliminary theories provide several insights into how the bus-truck accident may have occurred.
According to casino employees, the bus arrived with its load of passengers at about 11:30 p.m. on Saturday. The bus left on its return trip at about 4:00 a.m. on Sunday. After traveling for about one hour, the bus crashed into the rear end of a tractor-trailer near Palm Springs. Both vehicles had slowed for construction workers on the highway, but according to witnesses the bus was moving significantly faster than the big rig. The collision sheared off the top of the bus and killed the driver and 12 other people.
Police officers who investigated the scene of the accident said that they found no signs that the bus had braked before the accident. The big rig left skid marks when it was pushed forward by the impact. The driver of the bus owned the tour company that owned the bus. The bus was the only vehicle owned and operated by the company. In addition to the investigation by local police and the California Highway Patrol, the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident. The NTSB has said that it will look at the driving records of both the bus driver and the driver of the big rig, their accident histories and their level of training. While the preliminary investigation into causation appears directed at the bus driver, the truck driver may have slowed unexpectedly or made another maneuver that led to the collision. At this point, neither alcohol nor drugs appears to have played a role.
Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in an accident involving a tour bus or other means of public transportation may want to get an an analysis of the facts and applicable law in their unique situation. Doing so can also provide a helpful estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.
Source: CNN, "Police: "'No appearance of braking' in deadly bus crash," Darran Simon and Artemis Moshtaghian, Oct. 24, 2016