A deadly collision between a tour bus and semi-truck has killed at least 13 people and sent dozens of injured passengers to local hospitals on Sunday morning near Palm Springs, California.
For much of this morning firefighters struggled to get inside the mangled bus, carrying 41 passengers back to Los Angeles from a casino in the area. Many of victims, who were reportedly asleep at the time of the accident, still haven’t been identified.
“In almost 35 years I’ve never been to a crash with so many fatalities,” said California Highway Patrol Chief Jim Abele in a press conference on Sunday. “It’s tough, tough for all of us. You never get used to this sort of thing.”
Investigators with the California Highway Patrol are still trying to understand why the bus slammed into the semi’s trailer around 5:15 a.m. on Sunday morning. The driver of the bus was also killed in the collision.
“The speed of the bus was so significant” that the big rig’s trailer wedged itself 15 feet into the body of the bus, added Abele.
Tow trucks rushed to the scene in the early morning darkness to lift the truck trailer off of the bus, so rescuers could get to the victims. The big rig’s driver was taken to the hospital, but his injuries were not life threatening.
Firefighters used chainsaws and ladders, propped up next to windows on the buss, to pull victims out of the wreckage. The vehicle is owned by USA Holiday, a Los Angeles-based tour company.
Debris from the collision were strewn alongside the crash scene on the westbound lane of I-10, one of Southern California’s busiest highways, which was expected to remain closed for much of the day as investigators combed through the wreckage to try and determine the cause of the crash.
“Right now we are looking at everything,” said Abele. “We just don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle.”
Three area hospitals were scrambling to treat the 31 injured passengers on the bus, including five victims listed in critical condition.