Bus Driver Swerved to Avoid Metal Pipes on Road Before Fatal Crash: Investigators

The crash involving a passenger bus and big rig carrying steel pipes occurred on the 10 Freeway near the Arizona border

Four people were killed Wednesday morning and several others were hospitalized after a crash involving a passenger bus and big rig on a freeway near the Southern California border with Arizona, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Thirty-two people were aboard the bus, which was traveling from El Paso, Texas to Los Angeles on the 10 Freeway when the driver swerved to avoid metal pipes that were scattered on the road after an earlier big rig crash. The survivors included a woman and her 12-day-old baby (pictured, below).

All lanes on the 10 Freeway in the Blythe area were closed during the crash investigation,but were reopened Wednesday afternoon, according to Caltrans officials.

The El Paso-Los Angeles Limousine Express bus departed about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday from El Paso, Texas, destined for Los Angeles, the company said in a statement. It stopped in Phoenix prior to the crash for a driver change, according to the California Highway Patrol. The crash was reported at about 2 a.m., just east of the community of Blythe, about 220 miles east of Los Angeles.

A preliminary investigation indicated the eastbound big rig jack-knifed and scattered a load of steel pipes on both sides of the desert freeway, according to Caltrans.

Four vehicles were involved in the initial crash before the bus driver swerved to avoid the pipes, said Caltrans spokeswoman Terri Kasinga. The bus ended up on its side about 50 feet off the shoulder of the westbound side of the road, according to authorities.

Details regarding the conditions of the hospitalized victims were not immediately available. Kasinga said "many people" were transported to hospitals after the collision.

A CHP officer told the Associated Press that three passengers were airlifted and four others were transported in ambulances to hospitals. Fourteen others were transported by bus to a hospital for evaluation of minor injuries, according to the officer.

The bus company's director of operations in Los Angeles said he did not have details regarding the crash. The bus was scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles at 7 a.m., he said.

Jerry Rosenbaum, the president of the El Paso - Los Angeles Limousine Express, released a statement that read in part, the "California Highway Patrol has taken the lead on this
investigation and we’re confident they’ll determine all the elements involved in this accident. No one has made any allegations about the bus’s maintenance or the bus driver’s actions being
contributing factors of this accident."

The crash came about one month afte a tour bus crash that killed 10 people in Northern California. A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board indicated a FedEx truck towing two 28-foot trailers left the southbound 5 Freeway lanes in Orland, California, crossed a 58-foot wide center median and crashed through bushes before entering the northbound lanes, according to the NTSB preliminary report. The truck collided with a car that had just passed the bus, then collided with the motorcoach, according to the report.

Nineteen students from 16 LAUSD schools and students from other Southern California school districts were aboard the bus.


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