Tuesday, February 5, 2013
The California Highway Patrol says a bus that careened out of control down a mountain before crashing and killing seven people --three of them from San Diego -- has been towed from the highway, nearly 24 hours after the accident.
Officer Leon Lopez says the tow-away proved difficult because the bus's brakes wouldn't release.
Coroner's officials say the seven people killed were five women, a man and a boy.
Michael Guluster of San Diego was looking for three of his family members on Monday.
"The hospital didn't have their names, [California] Highway Patrol didn't answer our calls, we couldn't reach the fire department," Guluster said.
Three of the dead were San Diego residents and have been identified as 13-year-old Victor Cabrera-Garcia, 40-year-old Elvira Garcia Jimenez and 61-year-old Guadalupe Olivas. A neighbor told 10News that Olivas worked as a janitor at a school in Santee.
Three others who were killed were residents of Tijuana, Mexico, including 38-year-old Aleida Adriana Arce Hernandez. Her brother Miguel Arce drove from Tijuana to Loma Linda in San Bernardino County to be with his sister's 11-year-old daughter, who was critically injured in the crash.
"I know my niece is going to wake," Miguel Arce said. "I have to give a reason about my sister."
The other Tijuana residents who died are 34-year-old Rubicelia Escobedo Flores and 32-year-old Mario Garcia Santoyo. San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner's Supervisor Tony Campisi said Monday that one woman remains unidentified.
The bus carrying a group from Tijuana, Mexico, to the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles collided with a car and a pickup Sunday night. Debris and body parts created a scene of horrific carnage, and the other vehicles will also be towed.
The bus could not be entered until Monday because the wreckage was precariously hanging off the road.
Dozens of people were injured, some critically.
A hazardous materials team cleaned road of fuel and other biohazards from the accident.
Additionally, the National Transportation Safety Board has sent a team of investigators to look into the cause of the accident.
A man, who appeared to be official, pulled into the bus company based in National City, just before 11 a.m. on Tuesday. He had California exempt plates, and carried a notepad as security escorted him into the building.
During a press conference on Tuesday, NTSB investigator Robert Accetta said the investigative team is now in the San Diego area.
"Two teams, the motor carrier group was down in the San Diego area interviewing the owner of the company and one of the mechanics that works for the company," he said. "
The NTSB investigation is very preliminary, but they did reveal the search for answers will focus on three things: the bus, the San Diego company that operated it and the driver.
"Can't speak on behalf of the California Highway Patrol, but I do know that a blood sample was taken and they conducted a follow-up interview today with the driver," said Accetta.
Additionally, Accetta said investigators are conducting 3-D scans of the vehicles involved in the crash. They hope to finish by Tuesday but it may continue into Wednesday.
He said investigators have not yet started a mechanical inspection of the bus. In addition to the brakes, other mechanical portions of the bus will be inspected.