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California bus crash kills 1, injures dozens

Associated Press

Redding, Calif. — A tour bus drifted off a northern California interstate and crashed onto its roof, killing a 33-year-old man, leaving six others with critical or serious injuries, and sending two dozen people to hospitals with mainly minor wounds, authorities said.

The crash Sunday morning was the second in the day for the bus. California Highway Patrol Officer Jeff Borgen said the same vehicle struck a Denny’s restaurant in Red Bluff, about 50 miles south, but no one was hurt.

The bus was enroute from Los Angeles to Pasco, Washington, when it went off Interstate 5 at about 7:30 a.m. about 100 miles south of the Oregon border, Borgen said. It rolled over and came to rest upside-down on a frontage road.

Police said the man who died was from the Fresno area city of Parlier, but his name was being withheld until relatives could be notified.

Three patients were in critical condition, including one who was flown by helicopter to Mercy Medical Center in Mount Shasta with severe head injuries, hospital spokeswoman Joyce Zwanziger told the Sacramento Bee.

Three people were in serious condition at the same hospital’s Redding location, where most of the patients were taken, spokeswoman Heather Nichols said.

“We drill for this kind of thing,” Nichols told the Redding Record-Searchlight.

The two dozen others who were treated at hospitals had mostly minor injuries and were released.

The bus, a 1996 Vanhool, was driven by Jose Victor Garcilazo, 67, of Los Angeles.

Investigators said evidence at both crash sites show that driver fatigue may have been a factor. They did not say whether drugs or alcohol may have been involved or whether any citations or charges were planned.

It wasn’t clear how much damage was done in the initial crash or why the bus continued on its trip. Red Bluff police, who investigated the first crash, had no additional information on it Sunday night.

The bus operator, Yellow Arrow LLC, is based in Othello, Washington. It has a current license and before Sunday had no reported accidents in the past two years, according to federal records.

No one answered several calls from The Associated Press to a telephone number for the company that was listed in the records.

The hospital was working with the Salvation Army and the Red Cross to assist patients who had been released, many of whom were staying at a hospitality house run by the medical center.

“We’re just keeping them safe and comfortable,” Nichols said.

The crash was on the same freeway about 90 miles away from the spot where in April another charter bus from Southern California collided with a FedEx tractor-trailer, killing 10 people. That bus was carrying high school students on a visit to Humboldt State University.