A horrific bus accident that killed 13 people and wounded another 31 in Desert Hot Springs on Sunday is being called one of the state’s deadliest wrecks in decades.
The USA Holiday bus was heading to Los Angeles along the 10 Freeway, with many of its passengers asleep after a weekend of gambling near the Salton Sea. The collision occurred just after 5 a.m. when the bus slammed into the back of a truck’s trailer, crushing the front of the cabin.
The cause of the crash is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board. The agency will look at a multitude of factors and possibilities, including whether the driver dozed off, suffered a medical emergency, or was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time. A data recorder will also yield some clues, authorities hope.
The driver of the bus was identified Monday as 59-year-old Todulo Elias Vides of Los Angeles, owner of the USA Holiday company. Officials from the California Highway Patrol said there was no evidence that Vides attempted to hit the brakes before slamming into the big rig.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Vides had been sued for negligence at least twice before. One case involved a crash that killed three people. His company had also received several “unsatisfactory” ratings from the CHP.
One victim of the crash was a resident of Palmdale. The others have all been identified as residents of Los Angeles. They ranged from 26 to 76 years old.