Bus Crash in California Kills 5 French Tourists


 
 

Tracie Cone | | Wednesday, April 29, 2009


SOLEDAD, Calif. -- Luggage and bodies were left strewn around a central California highway after a bus carrying French tourists overturned on an overpass, killing at least five and injuring dozens.

Investigators were still trying to determine the cause of the crash Tuesday afternoon that shut down U.S. 101 for hours, but said the tour bus appeared to be the only vehicle involved.

The maroon Orion Pacific bus lay on its side after crashing into the guard rail on the two-lane southbound overpass in Soledad, about 100 miles southeast of San Francisco.

The crash ejected four passengers from the vehicle, sending one over the side of the road and onto railroad tracks 60 to 70 feet below, said California Highway Patrol spokesman Brian Wiest.

"It's a tragedy," Wiest said. "It's certainly one of worst I've seen in a long time."

The passenger that fell to the railroad tracks and two others died at the scene, said Maia Carroll, a spokeswoman for the Monterey County Office of Emergency Services. Two more passengers died at hospitals.

A total of 36 people had been on board, including 34 French tourists, one Canadian tour guide and an American driver, Wiest said.

Four of those injured were under the age of 18, including a 13-year-old girl who was one of seven patients airlifted to hospitals in Fresno and the San Francisco Bay Area. The driver was among those who survived the crash, according to the CHP.

Jacques de Noray, a spokesman for the French consulate in San Francisco, said authorities had notified his office that the crash involved French citizens, but said he had no further details. Officials from the consulate reached the scene of the crash late Tuesday.

The tour, which started in San Francisco, was en route to Southern California, where the tourists were due to fly out of Los Angeles back to France, Wiest said. The group had been in the U.S. since April 19 and made stops Tuesday in Monterey and Carmel before the crash, authorities said.

A person who answered the phone at Orion Pacific, which describes itself as a family owned, luxury charter coach company based in Orange, said no one was available for comment. It was not immediately clear who had chartered the bus that crashed in Soledad.

The highway was temporarily shut down in both directions; northbound lanes reopened a couple hours later, and it was unclear when southbound lanes would reopen.

Adrienne Laurent, a spokeswoman for the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, said the facility had received three patients from the crash. She said one of those patients, a 52-year-old man, was declared dead there.

Patients also were being treated at eight other hospitals.

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

CHP spokeswoman Fran Clader in Sacramento could not comment on Orion Pacific's safety record pending the accident investigation. The company has been operating since 1985, according to its Web site.

Associated Press writers Sudhin Thanawala, Louise Chu and Josh Dubow in San Francisco also contributed to this report.




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Trauma

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Simulation-Based Assessment Facilitates Learning & Enhances Clinical Judgment

Simulation is an educational tool that can be used to develop and refine clinical skills of the student in a controlled environment before they progress to becoming practicing clinicians.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

REMSA Programs Helps Reduce Hospital Visits

Community paramedic effort goes into service.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

City Official Challenges San Francisco Fire Chief

Ambulance response times among problems noted by city supervisor.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Texas Ambulance Crash

Victoria ambulance collides with civilian vehicle.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Colorado Medics Ditch Pants for Kilts

“Real men do wear kilts.”
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

CO Leak at Illinois School

Girard incident sends over 130 to hospitals.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Hands On September 2014

Who gets thumbs up this month?
More >


Multimedia Thumb

NYC Sept. 11 Anniversary

View images from the ceremony at Ground Zero.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >