IRWINDALE (CBSLA.com) — A charter bus Thursday overturned on the eastbound 210 Freeway in Irwindale and injured more than 50 passengers after colliding with a Hyundai Elantra.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department said the crash occurred around 10:10 a.m.
The CHP believes the driver of the bus made an improper and unsafe lane change.
At least 10 ambulances responded to the scene and Cantonese and Mandarin translators were requested to help communicate with bus passengers.
The bus, owned by Da Zhen Travel Agency of Monterey Park, was heading to the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino from the San Gabriel Valley.
The crash occurred where the 210 and 605 connector meet in Irwindale. After the bus overturned, it slid along train tracks.
Authorities told CBS2′s Bobby Kaple at least six of the injuries were serious.
Eight passengers were airlifted, five of which went to County-USC Medical Center, Dr. Leonardo Rodriguez said.
“The initial triage identified a couple of patients that were moderate and then as we continued to remove the patients from the bus, it is very fortunate that all the patients were either moderate or minor in their injuries. We had no critical patients,” Dep. Chief John Tripp said.
The freeway was shut down in both directions for at least 30 minutes as victims were transported. The westbound 210 and the carpool lane on the east side of the freeway were reopened at 11 a.m.
Tipster Brent Montague told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO he saw the accident and said the bus appeared to be trying to merge from one side of the freeway to the other when it swerved to avoid a car.
“The tires locked up and then they swerved left again, and then it swerved right, and it looked like he was gonna get on the shoulder okay, but then he over-corrected and then it went over on its faster side into the dirt,” Montague said.
“We don’t know who caused what, we only know that they both collided within the lane, and the bus veered to the right all the way off the roadway and overturned near a train track,” Rodrigo Jimenez of the CHP said.
First responders used a color-coded tarp system to identify the accident victims — red for the most serious, and then yellow and green, in descending order.
Kaple reported that the majority of injuries were people on the green tarp.
“I was driving down the 210 and I guess the bus was trying to change lanes. It didn’t see me. I am not exactly sure what the driver was doing,” said Melody Bausa, a San Diego State student. She was driving her black Elantra in the left lane when the bus veered into her lane and hit her on the passenger’s side.
The bus then careened across traffic before landing on the train tracks.
“He hit the passenger side of my car,” said Bausa, “I tried to move out of the way, but I was trying not to hit anyone else, too. There were other cars around us.”
Kaple said several civilians stopped on the shoulder of the road to help pull passengers out of the bus.
The California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles County Fire Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff Department, Irwindale Police Department, San Gabriel Police Department, Los Angeles County Health-HAZMAT, and Caltrans all responded to the scene.
Traffic was backed-up for hours.