Shortly after 5 a.m. on Sunday morning, a tour bus filled with passengers who were traveling from Palm Springs, California, to Los Angeles collided with a tractor trailer.
The bus appears to have impacted the tractor trailer directly in the back with such force that the front of the bus was completely enveloped by the trailer of the big rig.
Here are 5 quick facts that you need to know about the tragic accident:
1. The crash happened at about 5:17 a.m. just west of Indian Canyon Drive. The bus was traveling at a significantly greater speed than the tractor trailer, a Freightliner truck carrying food products. “The speed of the bus was so significant that the trailer itself entered about 15 feet into the bus … You can see it was a substantial impact,” according to California Highway Patrol Border Division Chief Jim Abele who spoke at a news conference.
2. The tour bus was returning to Los Angeles from a trip to the Red Earth Casino in Thermal, California near Palm Springs. It is unclear whether drugs, alcohol or fatigue were factors in the accident.
Poet Aleman, 21, stated that she was driving on the I-10 when traffic came to a sudden stop. After crawling in traffic, she reached the scene of the accident. “The front part of the bus was completely merged into the rear of the semi-truck,” she said.
3. Emergency responders used two trucks and a crane to lift the trailer to provide easier access to the bus, whose front end was completely demolished.
The CHP said that there was no evidence that the bus applied its brakes before the impact into the back of the semi-truck, leading investigators to believe that fatigue could have been factor, though officials could not rule out some sort of medical emergency on the part of the driver, such as a heart attack.
4. There were a total of 44 passengers traveling on the bus. There were 13 fatalities, including the driver of the bus; 31 others were injured. Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs received 14 of the injured victims. Five of them are in critical condition. Eisenhower Medical Center and JFK Memorial Hospital also received and treated patients from the crash.
Survivors said that most passengers were asleep at the time of the crash. Many of the surviving victims were found in their seats. The identities of the victims are largely unknown due to a “swift extraction” by first responders. However, all of the passengers are believed to be adults.
Chief Abele did not provide the nationalities of the victims but did say that authorities were in contacts with consulate officials of Mexico, Japan, and Australia and that most of the passengers were Hispanic. He said that it has been difficult to identify some of the passengers in part because some were not carrying “legitimate” or “valid” identification.
5. The bus was owned by L.A.-based USA Holliday Bus. The bus had been inspected in 2014, 2015, and most recently in April of this year with no mechanical problems reported.
Though all of the passengers appeared to have been seated properly, many ended up in the front end of the bus due to the force of the impact.