COLUSA COUNTY, Calif. -- At least 10 people were killed and more than 30 others were injured Sunday night when a passenger bus carrying casino-bound gamblers ran off a rural road near the Colusa County town of Williams and rolled over, according to the California Highway Patrol.
"The bus was northbound on Lonestar Road in the vicinity of Abel Road when it ran off the road for unknown reasons and rolled over," said CHP Dispatcher Terry Troth. Ten passengers were confirmed dead late Sunday, he said.
It was not immediately clear exactly how many passengers were on the bus traveling from Sacramento to the Colusa Casino Resort near the farming town of Colusa at the time of the 6:12 p.m. accident, said CHP spokeswoman Fran Clader, who was out at the scene. She said estimates were anywhere from 40 to 70 passengers. She said that the bus rolled completely over into a muddy drainage ditch and landed back on its wheels. Seven people were confirmed dead at the scene, and three others were pronounced dead at various local hospitals.
In all, 38 were transported to eight local and regional medical centers.
Neither she nor Troth knew the extent of the injuries in the accident about 60 miles north of Sacramento.
"At the early stages of things like this, things are so chaotic, and the priority is getting people transported to the hospital," Clader said.
Emergency crews responded from Colusa and Yolo counties and Williams, as well as the CHP, Clader said.
Troth said medical and rescue crews were having trouble communicating with the passengers because many spoke Lao.
Names, ages and hometowns of the victims were not released.
The accident happened on a lightly used road that runs through a long stretch of farm country and does not appear to have involved any other vehicle, the CHP said.
Crash experts from the CHP were brought in and the National Transportation Safety Board is expected to launch its own probe into the cause of the accident.
The bus driver, whose name was not released, survived the crash and was taken to Woodland Memorial Hospital, Troth said.
Sacramento television station KCRA reported on its Web site that the driver of the bus was in fair condition. The television station also quoted a CHP sergeant as saying that the driver was on medication, and that investigators are examining if those medications played a role in the crash. Clader said she could not confirm reports that the driver had been on medication.
Authorities said the bus was a charter operated by Greyhound Lines, but a spokeswoman for the bus company said it does not own the vehicle.
"It is not our bus. We sold it more than two years ago," said Kim Plaskett, the Greyhound spokeswoman. "It is an old bus."
Lourdes Edralin, a spokeswoman from Woodland Memorial Hospital, said six victims were at the hospital, but she would not provide information on their conditions. She said, however, that it is not a trauma center where more seriously injured people would be sent.
According to a spokeswoman for Enloe Medical Center in Chico, 12 victims were admitted from the crash.
Hospital Vice President Laura Hennum said one died, three were in critical condition, and two were in serious condition. Six others were undergoing medical evaluation Sunday night.
"We activated our disaster response center so we have been calling in additional staff," she said.
At least 20 additional nurses, respiratory therapists and X-ray technicians were called in to help, she said.
Colusa Regional Medical Centerreceived two patients with minor to moderate injuries such as head lacerations, said Terry Deak, a hospital administrator.
Troth said six victims were sent to UC Davis Medical Center, and center spokeswoman Martha Alcott said they were in critical condition but were still being assessed.
Three victims were taken to Oroville Hospital, Troth said, and a nursing supervisor said two were in critical condition and one in serious condition.
Three more victims were taken to Rideout Memorial Hospital in Marysville in Yuba County. They were in serious condition, said nursing supervisor Lori Grob. He said two victims were taken to Sutter Roseville Medical Center, although the nursing supervisor knew of only one woman who had arrived and was in fair condition. Another victim was sent to Mercy San Juan Medical Center, Troth said.