The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

February 5, 2013

Bus passenger describes terror before California crash

YUCAIPA, Calif. — The bus full of tired tourists returning to Tijuana, Mexico, was slowly winding down a mountain road from the ski resort town of Big Bear when it suddenly picked up speed. The driver shouted to call 911 — the brakes had failed.

As passengers frantically tried to get a cellphone signal, a group of teenage girls shrieked and prayed aloud as others cried and shielded their heads as they careened downhill. The bus rear-ended a Saturn sedan, swerved, flipped and slid on its side. A Ford pickup in the oncoming lane plowed into it, righting the bus and tossing passengers out windows before it came to a halt.

“Everything happened so fast. When the bus spun everything flew, even the people,” said Gerardo Barrientos, who was next to his girlfriend one minute and then scrambling out of the wreckage the next trying to find her and a friend in the highway. Both were injured but alive.

Seven people were killed and about three dozen injured Sunday night in the accident 80 miles east of Los Angeles. The dead included 13-year-old Victor Cabrera-Garcia; Elvira Garcia Jimenez, 40; and Guadalupe Olivas, 61, all of San Diego; along with Aleida Adriana Arce Hernandez, 38, and Rubicelia Escobedo Flores, 34, both of Tijuana, San Bernardino County coroner’s supervisor Tony Campisi said. Coroner’s officials are trying to confirm the identity of one man and a woman remains unidentified.

On Monday, while families of the tourists descended on hospitals looking for loved ones, investigators searched for evidence and scrutinized the bus company’s safety history.

Government records showed the bus, operated by Scapadas Magicas LLC of National City, Calif., recorded 22 safety violations in inspections in the year ending last October — including brake, windshield and tire problems. Though the company retained an overall “satisfactory” rating from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, it had been targeted for a higher rate of inspections linked to bus maintenance, the agency said.

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World
  • At mudslide scene, Obama mourns with survivors

    OSO, Wash. — Swooping over a landscape of unspeakable sadness and death, President Barack Obama took an aerial tour Tuesday of the place where more than three dozen people perished in a mudslide last month. He pledged a nation’s solidarity ...

    April 23, 2014

  • GM, lawyers fight over protections

    DETROIT — General Motors Co. and a battalion of trial lawyers are preparing for an epic court fight over whether GM is liable for the sins of its corporate past. The company is asking a U.S. bankruptcy court to shield it from legal claims ...

    April 23, 2014

  • Boston Marathon One year after tragedy, 32,000 run Boston Marathon

    BOSTON — Some ran to honor the dead and wounded. Others were out to prove something to the world about their sport, the city or their country. And some wanted to prove something to themselves....

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Festivities, tight security before race

    BOSTON — In many ways, it felt like any other pre-marathon Sunday in Boston....

    April 21, 2014

  • Boston race makes room for those affected by bombs

    BOSTON — “I need to run.” The messages started arriving just hours after the bombings, pleading for an entry into the 2014 Boston Marathon. For months the calls and emails continued, runners begging for an opportunity to cross the finish ...

    April 21, 2014

  • Documents detail another delayed GM recall for failed power steering

    DETROIT — General Motors waited years to recall nearly 335,000 Saturn Ions for power steering failures despite getting thousands of consumer complaints and more than 30,000 warranty repair claims, according to government documents released ...

    April 20, 2014

  • Landslide devouring part of Wyoming town

    JACKSON, Wyo. — A slow-motion disaster continued unfolding in the Wyoming resort town of Jackson on Saturday, as a creeping landslide that split a hillside home threatened to swallow up more houses and businesses. The ground beneath the ...

    April 20, 2014

  • Questions about missing Malaysian plane answered

    Travelers at Asian airports have asked questions about the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Here are some of them, followed by answers. Samuel Rogers is a 20-year-old ...

    April 20, 2014

  • NASA’s space station Robonaut finally getting legs

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs....

    April 20, 2014

  • Hostage French journalists in Syria freed

    PARIS — Four French journalists held hostage in Syria for 10 months have been released, officials said Saturday, the latest batch of reporters to be freed in what has become the world’s deadliest conflict for the media....

    April 20, 2014