By Calvin Palmer
Six people were killed and nine others seriously injured when a Greyhound bus traveling from Los Angeles to Sacramento crashed in the early hours of this morning on a highway just outside downtown Fresno.
The bus, carrying 36 people, struck an overturned SUV then hit a concrete center divider and clipped another vehicle before going off the right shoulder of Highway 99 down a 15-foot embankment. It came to rest on a freeway off-ramp with its front end smashed and tree branches jutting into the vehicle.
Twisted pieces of metal, broken glass and torn clothing littered the ground around the bus wreckage, said California Highway Patrol Officer Axel Reyes.
The six dead included four women and two men. Nine people were taken to the hospital with moderate to critical injuries, Reyes said. The driver of the bus was among those killed.
Passenger Arlen Snider was asleep in the middle section of the bus when the crash occurred.
“I woke up on the floor of the bus and started helping people off the bus,” Snider, who escaped uninjured.
Linda Gee, another passenger, said she heard two booms and the next thing she knew the bus was down the embankment.
“I’m alive and I thank God I’m alive,” Gee said. “There was just bleeding everywhere.”
The SUV involved in the incident, a blue Chevy Trailblazer, had overturned in the fast lane and also landed at the bottom of the embankment, with its roof caved in and doors crushed.
Police were investigating the cause of the initial SUV crash, including whether it was related to drunken driving, Reyes said.
The two northbound lanes of Highway 99, a major route through the San Joaquin Valley, were closed for several hours after the crash.
A relief bus was sent to take nine passengers who wanted to continue on to their destinations.
[Based on a report by the Associated Press.]