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Tour Bus Crash Injures 10 Passengers Near Pala

Posted on September 5, 2013

Bus accident

Bus accident (Photo credit: Xesc)

Ten people were sent to the hospital late Sunday night when a tour bus crashed on its way from Los Angeles to Casino Pauma near Pala. The company that operates the tour bus has failed California Highway Patrol safety inspections four times in the last two years.

The CHP said the “Polar Express” company earned a satisfactory ranking in January 2013, but it received unsatisfactory safety rankings in August 2011, December 2011, March 2012 and July 2012.

All 18 passengers aboard the bus were from the Los Angeles area.

According to the driver, he was going around a curve when the brakes failed. The bus ran into a guard rail and swerved to the right, hitting trees and boulders before eventually stopping.

Ten people, the driver included, were checked into Palomar Hospital. According to officials a laceration to the head was the most serious injury. All passengers have since been discharged from the hospital.

The Polar Express bus company’s phone number was provided by Casino Pauma but the woman who answered when the number was called said it was a wrong number and they had reached a Chinese food restaurant.

The accident occurred a little before 11 p.m. Sunday on Pala Temecula Road near Arouba Road.

According to CHP, alcohol does not appear to have been a factor in the crash.

Officer Jim Bettencourt said “We don’t really know any of the history of the company right now. Everything is still pretty fresh.”

CHP officers are working to determine the cause of the accident.

“Once we’re able to get the bus out of here, we’re going to do a full mechanical investigation on it to determine if there was anything else wrong with the bus, if it was mechanical or driver error,” said a CHP official.

The driver has been identified as 58-year-old Danhill Wong of El Monte. According to public records, the 1996 tour bus is registered to Wong’s address.

Officials closed part of Pala Temecula Road for hours while they investigated.

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