Monday we blogged about the California bus crash that occurred near Palm Springs and killed thirteen people, including the driver and owner of the tour bus company. The bus was transporting people from a casino back to Los Angeles. The passengers who survived the Palm Springs bus crash were left with “horrific facial injuries” due to not wearing seat belts, according to the Daily Mail.
The driver of the tour bus had “a checkered safety record,” according to the Los Angeles Times. The article called the crash “the deadliest in California in several decades.” Teodulo Elias Vides, both bus driver and owner of the company, was in the business of driving older people to and from casinos for years. However, he had been sued at least twice for negligence after collisions with other vehicles. One of these collisions even resulted in three deaths.
In addition to the suits, the company received at least six unsatisfactory ratings by California Highway Patrol. The driver had also been cited in several counties for traffic violations. In the Palm Springs crash, the bus was traveling at such high speeds that the trailer from the semi truck he collided with came into the bus fifteen feet, which is why mostly people at the front died. The LA Times article also stated that it appears that no attempt to brake was made.
In 2003, Vides faced his first lawsuit, after colliding with a car on the 60 Freeway in Riverside. The case was settled in 2006, but it was not in the court records what the settlement was.
In 2007, Vides faced his second lawsuit for negligence. He crashed into a Honda Civic on the 215 freeway in Riverside, where the driver of the sedan and two of her passengers died. One of the passengers’ relatives sued Vides for personal injury and negligence, but Vides’ lawyers claimed that the car was traveling too fast and lost control. The claim apparently was dismissed after plaintiffs failed to respond to discovery requests.
In 2005, he was cited for speeding at speeds more than 70 mph. In 2007, he was cited for operating with an expired permit. In 2011, he was cited for speeding and driving with a suspended license. A month later, this was dismissed when he produced a valid driver’s license. In 2011, he was cited for straddling lanes.
In 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2010, the company, USA Holiday, received unsatisfactory ratings from the California Highway Patrol.
This is all new information coming out of the LA Times. Initial reports just mentioned the inspection by California Highway Patrol in April 2016, and no mechanical deficiencies were noted. It is still not clear what the cause of the crash was. Was it the driver behaving negligently or was there another reason? The customers seemed happy with his services. They enjoyed taking his trips. It’s just a shame that their stories had to end in this tragic way.