Irwindale, California - August 22, 2013
A tour bus loaded with passengers heading to the San Manuel Casino eastbound on the 210 Freeway crashed Thursday morning, injuring at least 50 people. The accident happened at around 10:10 a.m. where the 210 Freeway joins the 605 Freeway in Irwindale. According to the California Highway Patrol, the bus driver may have made an improper lane change, which caused the bus to crash and overturn.
The crash sent 55 people to area hospitals. Of those, 52 were passengers on the bus, most between the ages of 60 and 80. A majority sustained only minor injuries, though some suffered major injuries, including an 86-year-old man who sustained broken ribs in the incident. The three other people injured were in another vehicle involved in the crash. NBC News Southern California is reporting that as of Thursday evening, all but five of those hospitalized have been released.
The bus was operated by Da Zhen, a Chinese tour bus company that offers day trips to various casinos. Da Zhen was previously flagged for unsafe driving in June, which prompted 35 driver inspections. Additionally, the company has seen 11 inspections over the last two years result in 25 violations, including failing to conduct a pre-trip inspection for leaks, inadequate brakes and worn tires.
"Da Zhen has a poor safety record," says Paul Hedlund, engineer and attorney that litigates transportation accidents at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman. "It's not horrible, but it should be better." The CHP will be looking into whether speed was a factor in the crash. Reports have indicated that passengers on the bus were complaining about the driver going too fast moments prior to the accident. The CHP will also be conducting a thorough mechanical inspection of the crashed bus.