MENTONE (CBSLA.com) — A collision involving a tour bus and a pickup truck has claimed the lives of at least seven people and injured dozens more.
The accident occurred around 6:30 p.m. Sunday on Highway 38 near Bryant Street, the California Highway Patrol said.
The bus carrying 38 people had departed Tijuana, Mexico, at 5:00 a.m. for a day of skiing at Big Bear.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but a preliminary report from the CHP indicates that the bus went out of control, flipped over and hit a pickup truck that was hauling a trailer. Speed is being considered a factor.
The deceased’s identities released by the Coroner’s Office late Monday include Guadalupe Olivas, 61, of San Diego; Elivra Garcia Jimenez, 40, of San Diego; Victor Cabrera Garcia, 13, of San Diego; Aleida Adriana Arce Hernandez, 38, of Tijuana, Mexico; Rubicelia Escobedo Flores, 34, of Tijuana, Mexico; and Mario Garcia Santoyo, 32, of Tijuana, Mexico.
As many as 38 people were injured in the crash and taken to at least six area hospitals.
Officials say the crash scene is still a search and recovery site.
“They’re actually retrieving the bodies that are inside the bus. We also had victims that were ejected from the bus,” Officer Mario Lopez said.
Highway 38 is expected to remain closed until Monday evening, Lopez said.
The bus is owned by Scapadas Magicas LLC of National City, Calif. The company has been cited repeatedly in recent years for problems including brake and tire issues, according to Federal transportation records.
The company that operated Sunday’s tour, InterBus Tours, issued a statement Monday on its company Facebook page:
“INTERBUS Tours and its entire team are working to provide support to our clients and their families who suffered an unfortunate accident coming from the mountains of Big Bear in San Bernardino CA.
Interbus staff are in our offices and at the hospitals where, we know, the authorities transported the injured.
We are providing an official phone number where victim’s relatives can attain information (001) 909 428 5400 (We ask that only family members call).
We are in contact with the Mexican Consulate personnel in the US, who are supporting the victims and their families. From 9 am today, you can call the numbers (001) 909 889 9896 and (001) 909 889 9786 for information regarding family members who were traveling with us. It is important to note that the vehicle we were subleasing has insurance covering this incident.
Out of respect for all those affected, we will not publish the list of passengers, until we have exact details from the authorities regarding all of our passengers.
We deeply regret what happened . . . .”
The National Transportation Safety Board plans to investigate the crash.