Tour bus overturns on 210 Freeway in Irwindale; 52 hurt


The accident was reported at about 10 a.m. on the 210 East near the 605 Freeway. Witnesses say the bus was changing lanes to move toward the carpool lane when the driver swerved to avoid a vehicle, causing the bus to overturn.

Melody Bausa, 21, said the bus clipped her Hyundai Elantra while changing lanes and then lost control.

"I guess the bus was changing lanes behind me on my passenger side, and I guess it just clipped me and I was trying not to hit anybody else, so I guess we all just kind of swerved," said Bausa.

The San Diego State University student was heading back to school when it all happened. She, along with several others, helped pull passengers out of the bus.

"I was just hoping they were OK because they were all kind of older, so I just wanted to get them out of there and make sure they were OK," said Bausa.

The California Highway Patrol said based on its investigation, the bus driver made an unsafe lane change, clipped the back of the Hyundai, veered to the right and lost control. Skid marks show how far the bus traveled before it came to a stop. The CHP said

The bus was seen on its side in a dirt embankment between the freeway and railroad tracks, with the front windshield busted out. The CHP says the driver of a flatbed truck stopped to help people get out of the bus. Rescuers immediately set up a triage to help the injured people.

All lanes of the 210 Freeway were temporarily shut down to allow emergency helicopters to land in lanes. Five patients were taken to County-USC Medical Center. Officials say one man has since been released. Two were admitted to the ICU in guarded condition and two are being kept for observation.

Three injured people - two women and a man - were rushed to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena. The two women, both in their 70s, were treated and released. The 86-year-old man was taken to the ICU with broken ribs.

Extra workers were called in, not only to help, but also to translate. Hospital administrators say many of the patients did not speak English.

Eleven patients were taken to Foothill Presbyterian Hospital in Glendora. Most of them were released by the end of the day. Two remained hospitalized in stable condition.

Six patients were taken to Inter-Community and six others were taken to Queen of the Valley. All patients had minor to moderate injuries, hospital officials said.

Thirty people had minor injuries. The fire department says most of the injuries appeared to be minor cuts and bruises.

Westbound lanes reopened just before 11 a.m., and then a few eastbound lanes were reopened to traffic just after 2 p.m. All lanes finally reopened around 8:40 p.m.

The tour bus is operated by Da Zhen Travel Agency, according to the logo on the bus. Da Zhen Travel Agency's office is located in Monterey Park. Lucas Sung, an employee, said everyone in the office was saddened by the crash.

"They feel very bad," he said.

The CHP said the tour bus driver was not cited because nothing seems to suggest there was negligence on his part. For instance, he hadn't been drinking or taking drugs. But if that was the case, then he would be cited.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, drivers for the Da Zhen tour bus company have had three traffic violations in the last six months, one for following too closely and two for speeding.

Traffic was backed up for miles due to the accident, and some drivers were seen walking out of their vehicles to see what happened. CHP officers urged drivers to remain in their vehicles, adding that lanes cannot be reopened until everyone is inside vehicles.

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