Bus Driver Killed in "Horrific" Downtown LA Collision With Tow Truck

The bus driver was identified as 47-year-old Olivia Gamboa, whose husband and daughter also work for the transit agency

By Jonathan Lloyd, Annette Arreola and Patrick Healy
|  Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013  |  Updated 6:15 PM PDT
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A flat-bed tow truck blew through a red light collided with a Metro bus early Wednesday. Bus driver Olivia Gamboa suffered fatal wounds. Residents who live above the intersection recalled hearing “destruction”  at the time of the crash. Patrick Healy reports from Downtown LA for the NBC4 News at 4:30 p.m. on June 12, 2013.

Patrick Healy

A flat-bed tow truck blew through a red light collided with a Metro bus early Wednesday. Bus driver Olivia Gamboa suffered fatal wounds. Residents who live above the intersection recalled hearing “destruction” at the time of the crash. Patrick Healy reports from Downtown LA for the NBC4 News at 4:30 p.m. on June 12, 2013.

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Photos and Videos

Witness Describes Deadly Bus Crash

A witness to Wednesday's deadly bus crash involving a tow truck describes the scene in downtown Los Angeles. Annette Arreola reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on Wednesday June 12, 2013.

Raw Video: Bus, Tow Vehicle Collide in Downtown LA

A geyser shoots from a fire hydrant sheared off in the crash involving a tow vehicle and Metro bus in dowtnown Los Angeles. The tow vehicle left a hole in a 7-Eleven store at 5th Street and Broadway after the June 12, 2013 crash.
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A Metro bus driver was killed Wednesday morning in a collision with a flatbed tow truck that was traveling at an estimated 60 mph on a downtown Los Angeles street before crashing into the bus and slamming through the front entrance of a convenience store.

The bus -- only the driver was aboard -- collided at Fifth Street and Broadway (map) with the flatbed and sheared off a fire hydrant, sending a geyser of water into the air and flooding the intersection.

The bus driver was identified as 47-year-old Olivia Gamboa of Montebello. She was found "face-down in water" that gushed from the hydrant. 

The tow vehicle crashed through the front of a 7-Eleven store on the lower level of a brick building, slamming through a metal gate.

Fire-rescue crew members revived Gamboa after witnesses removed her from the water, said Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Steve Bailey. Gamboa was hospitalized in critical condition, but died later Wednesday morning, according to Metro officials.

Metro posted the following statement on its web site: "Metro is saddened to learn of the passing of one of our family members this morning as a result of a horrific accident in downtown Los Angeles. Our thoughts and prayers are with the bus operator’s family and friends during this difficult time. A thorough investigation of the accident is underway."

Gamboa had worked for Metro for 13 years, and her husband and daughter are also Metro bus operators, according to Metro's The Source blog.

"Co-workers recalled Olivia as quiet, family-oriented and very well liked by both passengers and colleagues," The Source post stated.

A Metro spokesman said the driver was just starting her morning route and there were no passengers on board.

The tow vehicle driver, identified as a man in his 30s, was in serious condition after suffering head trauma, and the store owner suffered minor injuries, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. The tow truck driver was driving at about 60 mph in the 30 mph zone, witnesses told police.

"We do have information from witnesses and cameras that the tow truck driver was going southbound on Broadway and failed to stop at a red light at 5th," Bailey said.

Investigators reviewed surveillance video from the 7-Eleven, an apartment complex above the store and from a camera inside the bus. An MTA source told NBC4 the video shows the tow truck driver cross the intersection against a red light.

The truck is registered to Hermosa Beach Towing company.

Fire crews shut off the hydrant and Broadway and 5th Street remained closed at mid-day for the crash investigation.

The 7-Eleven store was not open at the time of the crash.

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