Woman killed after falling off party bus, 2 arrested

July 30, 2012 8:53:52 PM PDT
Investigators are trying to find out how a young woman fell out of a party bus in Santa Cruz and was then run over and killed. Natasha Noland, 25, died on Southbound Highway 17 while returning from the Brad Paisley concert at the Shoreline Amphitheatre Friday night. She worked at the well known Pacific Wave Surf Shop that her parents own in Santa Cruz.

The owner of the Party Bus of Santa Cruz has not returned our calls, but we do know that the company was fined $4,500 in 2010 for operating with a suspended permit. We also know that permit was currently active and was allowed to carry up to 15 passengers on its bus. The CHP says it is investigating if there were any permit violations with this particular trip and trying to figure out how this tragedy happened.

Specialists and investigators are taking a hard look at the door of the Santa Cruz party bus. Noland of Santa Cruz died after she and a 20-year-old woman fell out of the bus Friday just before midnight. The CHP says the door is an air pressure or pneumatic system and not a mechanical or motor system.

"Did the door just fly open? Or did someone just trigger this mechanism or this pneumatic system that opens the door? We're just unsure of that now and that's what our investigators are doing at the tow yard today," said CHP spokesperson Ofc. D.J. Sarabia.

Sam Lavasani has owned Nationwide Limousine Service since 1988 -- a company not involved in this tragic incident. He says emergency door levers are put in places where they generally cannot be triggered accidently. He also says the position of the door on the bus involved was not adjacent to the driver.

"Because there is a front door already, the second door falls a little bit back which means it is close to where people are sitting, behind the driver," said Lavasani.

The CHP says Noland was in a group of about 12-15 people coming back from a Brad Paisely concert at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. She worked at the popular Pacific Wave Surf Shop in downtown Santa Cruz, which her parents own.

"It's like surreal I am expecting to get a text from her or something?it's pretty hard, it's not the same here without her," said Erik Witzig, a friend and co-worker of Noland's.

"I can't imagine what they are going through, but they need to know the whole city and everybody here is there to support them in whatever way they need," said downtown business owner Casey Coonerty Protti.

The CHP says there was excessive drinking on board the party bus and says two people were arrested at the crash site -- a 19-year-old passenger and Noland's 33-year-old boyfriend Bryan Larson.

"We understand how tragic this must have been for him, although he acted in a manner where our officers couldn't do their job properly and actually assaulted one of our officers. So he was taken into custody for his safety and for everyone's safety," said Lavasani.

The CHP says the passengers did not cooperate with investigators on Friday night and in fact some of them actually fled the scene so on Monday they are also re-interviewing people and trying to locate those they did not even talk to Friday.


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