Multiple fatalities in Soledad tour bus crash

April 29, 2009 12:08:18 AM PDT
A tour bus flips killing four people and sending dozens more to the hospital. The bus carried 34 people and was traveling from San Francisco to Santa Maria when something went terribly wrong.

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The tour bus overturned while going southbound on Highway 101 on a freeway overpass. Late Tuesday evening, the tour bus was still on its side and hadn't moved in hours as the traffic crept around it.

CHP officers don't know what caused the tour bus driver to crash into the guardrail, but they do say no other cars were involved. The tour bus is operated by Orion Pacific out of Orange County.

No one on the bus walked away unharmed. Twenty-seven passengers were taken by ambulance to five area hospitals, seven were air-lifted from the crash site, and four people are dead. People of all ages were on board, including four people on board under the age of 18.

"It was badly damaged. It appeared like it had been split open, but they were ejected through the windows. This is certainly one of the worst things I've ever seen on the freeway. Any time you get multiple victims, it's a horrific scene," said CHP Officer Brian Wiest.

The bus left San Francisco Tuesday morning and was due in Santa Maria on Tuesday afternoon, but it did stop in Monterey and Carmel. As for the tourists on board, a spokesman from the French Consulate in San Francisco says that some French citizens were on board the bus.

Several passengers fell 50-60 feet off the freeway overpass.

The patients were taken to various hospitals around the Monterey and Bay Area for treatment. At least two were air-lifted to San Jose's Valley Medical Center to receive emergency care. Five different patients were taken to two different hospitals in Salinas, closer to the crash site. Two were taken to hospitals in Monterey and the Stanford Medical Center.

The American Red Cross was called to help the tourists who are released from the hospitals, to get settled into Salinas hotels.

Please note: Initially, there were conflicting reports on the number of deaths.

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