On October 23rd, 2016, 13 people died and 31 more were injured after a tour bus collided with a semi-truck. The horrific accident, among the deadliest in California’s recent years, occurred in the early morning hours while the vehicles were traveling in the westbound lanes of the 10 Freeway at Indian Canyon in the Desert Hot Springs area.
Initial reports stated the tour bus slammed into the rear of the big rig, leaving no visible appearance of braking. The only skid marks at the accident scene were from the semi-truck as it was pushed forward from the impact.
The driver of the semi-truck, 50-year-old Bruce Guilford, of Covington, Georgia, received minor injuries. He stated that traffic had slowed because of work being done by a maintenance crew. Guilford reported feeling a thump in the back when the collision occurred and not immediately realizing what had happened.
The tour bus was carrying 44 passengers, all of whom were adults. Survivors report that the majority of the passengers were asleep at the time of the crash.
The bus was owned by USA Holiday, a Los Angeles company that specialized in transporting people to nearby casinos. It had been inspected in 2014, 2015, and 2016 with no reported mechanical problems, but was not equipped with seat belts. The driver of the bus, Teodulo Vides, was among those who were killed. Vides was also the owner of the company.
The Riverside County Coroner's Office has identified the victims as:
- Zoila Aguilera, 72
- Conception Corvera, 57
- Dora Galvez de Rodriguez, 69
- Milagros Gonzales, 72
- Ana Gomes de Magallon, 71
- Gustavo Green, 62
- Isabel Jimenez Hernandez, 66
- Yolanda Mendoza, 69
- Rosa Ruiz, 53
- Elvia Sanchez, 52
- Aracely Tije, 63
- Teodulo Vides, 59
- One male victim remains unidentified
Possible Accident Causes
The cause of the accident is still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, which will review both drivers' driving records, past accident history, and level of training before issuing an official statement. If drugs or alcohol played a factor in the accident, it will be verified via lab tests.
Collisions of this type are often caused by distracted driving. Safe driving requires constant vigilance, but drivers who are texting, talking on a cell phone, eating, fiddling with the radio, or conversing with passengers can easily cause accidents due to their inattentiveness.
Drowsy driving is a common factor in accidents involving semi-trucks, busses, and other vehicles driven by those who work erratic hours. In today's fast-paced world, it often seems like there's never enough time to sleep. However, a lack of sleep can create driving impairments similar to driving while drunk. Falling asleep at the wheel—even for a second or two—can also have devastating consequences.
What Happens Next?
In the days to come, the first priority will be seeking medical attention for the survivors. Initial reports described the survivors’ injuries as minor to moderate, although it's possible that some of the people involved in the accident will have more serious problems as time passes. Many auto accident injuries don't create immediately visible symptoms, which is why it's important to seek medical treatment immediately after any type of collision.
After the medical needs of the survivors are taken care of and those who lost their lives are laid to rest, it's likely that several personal injury and wrongful death claims will be filed. Injured persons are legally entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Surviving spouses, domestic partners, children, or other qualifying members can file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for funeral and burial expenses, related medical costs, the loss of their loved one's income to support the family, and the pain and suffering caused by the loss of their loved one's companionship.
To learn more about what your rights are in regards to filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim, please contact the legal team at Inland Empire Law Group. Call (888) MY IE LAW to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at either our Rancho Cucamonga or Victorville offices.