At least five people were killed early Tuesday in California’s Central Valley when a bus swerved and crashed into a sign pole, slicing the vehicle in half.
The California Highway Patrol said the white charter bus carrying 30 people was heading north on Highway 99 near Livingston in Merced County when the accident occurred around 3:25 a.m. local time.
“The pole went through the center of the bus, and that’s where the injuries were sustained,” California Highway Patrol Officer Moises Onsurez said, according to the Associated Press. Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said the pole sheared straight through the bus, stopping at the first rear axle “with a great impact.”
Five passengers killed, some with severe injuries, including missing limbs, were airlifted to local hospitals, authorities said. Emergency workers pulled out trapped passengers through the windows, while others were ejected and lying in ditches, AP reported.
Authorities released no information about additional injuries or the cause of the crash, which didn’t involve any other vehicles.
The bus started its journey in Mexico, stopped in Los Angeles on Monday night and was traveling to the Sacramento area Tuesday, Sacramento TV station KKHTK reported. Its final destination was Washington state, California Highway Patrol said.
This is a tragedy and this will take a substantial amount of time to investigate and to clear,” Onsurez said.
The driver of the bus was identified by police as Mario David Vasquez, 57, of the Los Angeles area, according to the Merced Sun Star. He suffered major injuries in the crash and was airlifted to the hospital.
The bus is registered to Autobuses Coordinados USA Inc., of East Los Angeles, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Phone calls to the company by the Los Angeles Times were not answered.
Several survivors of the crash declined to speak with reporters at the scene of the accident, the paper said. Many of them spoke only Spanish.
|Chowchilla News Day
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