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On October 24, 2016, a horrific tractor trailer vs bus collision killed 13 people and badly injured many more.  Investigators are wondering how the collision could have happened as preliminary analysis seems to show that the bus drove at a high rate of speed directly into the rear of the slow moving tractor trailer.

According to federal records, USA Holiday is a Los Angeles-based company that owns one 1996 motor coach and employs one driver – the late Teodulo Elias Vides, 59, who died in the crash.

At about 5:15 AM, Mr. Vides was transporting 44 passengers when the bus struck the rear of an 18-wheeler Freightliner truck near Palm Springs.  Tragically, 13 people were killed in the early morning accident.  The speed of the bus was so significant that when it collided with the back of the tractor trailer approximately 15 feet of the bus caved in causing the 13 fatalities and leaving the remaining 31 passengers injured, some in critical condition.

The California Highway speed limit is 70 MPH for that stretch of I-10.   According to CHP, the 18-wheeler was driving about 5 mph at the time of the collision.

Vides, the driver/owner of the tour bus, was among the 13 declared dead.   The other victims include: Isabel Jimenez Hernandez, 66; Rosa Ruiz, 53; Gustavo Green, 62; Zoila Aguilera, 72; Milagros Gonzales, 72; Conception Corvera, 57; Aracely Tije, 63; Dora Galvez de Rodriguez, 69; Elvia Sanchez, 52, Ana Gomes de Magallon, 71, and Yolanda Mendoza, 69.  The victims were not wearing seatbelts.  Most of those who died appeared to have been sitting toward the front of the bus and, according to officials, were hurled into the air on impact and sustained facial trauma.

For years, Vides drove buses filled with older passengers to casinos across the Southern California.  Records show he has been pulled over numerous times for traffic violations and had previously been sued at least twice for negligence after collisions with vehicles, one of which resulted in three deaths.  In 2007, Vides was named in a civil suit by the families of Sylvia Saucedo, and two of her passengers, Maria Llamas and Julio Morales after his bus crashed into their Honda Civic in Riverside killing all three.

CHP officials said Vides’ bus appeared to have made no attempt to brake before it impacted the back of the slow moving tractor trailer.  Along with representatives from the respective insurance companies and CHP, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are expected to be on the scene for nearly a week to conduct an in-depth investigation into what caused crash, including whether the drivers had any medical conditions and whether fatigue, drugs or alcohol was a factor.

It is unknown whether the casino arranged the bus trip, but casino representatives told investigators the bus arrived at Red Earth Casino between 11 and 11:30 p.m. Saturday and left about 4 a.m. Sunday for the approximately 2.5 hour pre-dawn trip back to Los Angeles.

The full investigation into the cause of the crash will include a number of experts including mechanics, human factors specialists, highway engineers, toxicologists and others.

There are a number of things to consider any time a truck or bus is involved in a collision.  Usually, because these vehicles are so large, people are left badly hurt or killed.  This makes the insurance claims potentially very large.  Typically, the insurers that represent trucking and bus companies send investigators to the scene immediately before conclusions as to the cause of the collision can be made.  Anyone who is injured by a large truck or bus needs to understand that there are investigators, which in my opinion may be trying to influence the investigation, working hard for the trucking/bus company.  The injured individual needs an experienced attorney looking out for his/her rights as soon as possible.  This attorney needs to be able to immediately deploy his own investigators and experts to the scene to preserve evidence, record witness testimony, take photos and ensure a thorough and impartial investigation.

If you have been injured because of the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of another, you can receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, wrongful death and related expenses.  Protect your rights.  Contact the personal injury lawyers at Paglialunga & Harris PS for more information.

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