Tour Bus Crash Kills Five in California


A charter bus full of French tourists crashed on a Highway 101 overpass just north of Soledad, California at 3:30 p.m. this past Tuesday, April 28. The maroon Orion Pacific bus flipped onto its side after crashing into the guard rail on the rural two-lane southbound overpass about 100 miles southeast of San Francisco. Five passengers were killed and dozens were injured. Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the crash that shut down the highway for hours, but it appears that the bus was the only vehicle involved.

The crash ejected four passengers from the bus, sending one over the side of the road and onto the railroad tracks 70 feet below. The passenger that fell to the railroad tracks and two others died at the scene. Two more passengers died at area hospitals. There was a total of 36 passengers on the bus, including 34 French tourists. Four of those injured were under the age of 18, including a 13-year old girl who was airlifted to a hospital in Fresno. Patients are being treated at eight other hospitals. The names of the deceased have not been released.

The driver of the tour bus was also killed in the crash. The Monterrey County Coroner?s office identified the driver as John Egnew, 69, of Corona. He died of head and neck injuries after he was thrown from the bus. Authorities said that Egnew had another prior accident in 2005 where he struck and seriously injured a woman in a Nevada crosswalk. In the 2005 accident, Egnew admitted to not seeing the victim crossing the street before he struck her with the bus.

The tour started in San Francisco and was en route to Southern California, where the tourists were due to fly out of Los Angeles and back to France. The group had been in the U.S. since April 19 and made stops on Tuesday in Monterey and Carmel before the crash. The French consulate in San Francisco had been notified and confirmed that travelers from France were on board, but no further details were provided.

Orion Pacific, the family owned, luxury charter coach company based in Orange, was unavailable for immediate comment. It is not clear who had chartered the bus that crashed, nor was Orion Pacific?s safety record available for comment pending the accident investigation. The company has been operating since 1985, according to its website.

The Red Cross is helping coordinate housing and other services for three families who survived the crash and were released from hospitals, said Paula Herrera, executive director of the Monterrey-San Benito chapter.

Currently, the authorities do not know what initially caused the bus crash, but are looking into the possibility of lax federal oversights and a failure to implement safety regulations on tour buses.

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Source by Campbell.Grenier