Driver among five killed in California bus crash

By Calvin Palmer

Five people were killed and dozens injured yesterday when a tour bus carrying French tourists crashed in California.

The California Highway Patrol said the bus hit a guard rail on a U.S. 101 overpass near in Soledad about 3:30 p.m. and overturned.

The bus was carrying 36 people – 34 French tourists, one Canadian tour guide and an American driver – said Officer Brian Wiest of the California Highway Patrol.

The driver was killed. He was one of at least three people ejected from the bus who fell 60 to 70 feet to the street below.

Sgt Carl Churchfield of the CHP said one passenger on the bridge and two below the bridge were pronounced dead at the scene. Two others died at regional hospitals.

The injured were taken by eight helicopters and 14 ambulances for treatment at five hospitals. Four of those injured were under the age of 18.

The maroon Orion Pacific Tour Bus Co. bus began the day in San Francisco, stopped in Monterey and Carmel and intended to make an overnight stop in Santa Maria.

Investigators are still working to find out the cause of the crash. Driver fatigue has been ruled out.

According to the driver’s log book, the male driver was not over his hours and should have had plenty of rest, said Churchfield.

[Based on reports by The Salinas Californian and Associated Press.]

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