The wrecked bus ready to be towed from the scene of the accident on Interstate 10. Courtesy OnScene.TV
The wrecked bus ready to be towed from the scene of the accident on Interstate 10. Courtesy OnScene.TV

Relatives of two of the 13 people killed in a tour bus crash near Palm Springs are suing the estate of the dead bus driver who was also the owner of the bus company.

The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by relatives of Gustavo Garcia and Tony Mia, alleging negligence and wrongful death. The suit names as defendants USA Holiday and the estate of Teodulo Elias Vides — the bus driver and company owner who also died in the crash.

A representative for USA Holiday could not be immediately reached for comment on the lawsuit filed Thursday on behalf of Garcia’s four surviving children, and Mia’s daughter, Diana.

The bus had taken gamblers on a junket to the Red Earth Casino at Salton City, about 25 miles south of Indio, and was being driven back to the Los Angeles area. In addition to the bus driver, 42 passengers were aboard.

The crash occurred around 5:15 a.m. Sunday when the bus slammed into the rear of a big rig on westbound Interstate 10 west of Indian Canyon Drive.

California Highway Patrol officials said it was unclear how fast the bus was traveling when it rear-ended the refrigerated truck trailer that was carrying food. Authorities said the force of the collision indicated the bus was traveling at a far higher speed than the truck, which the CHP said was traveling at about 5 mph, according to the truck driver. The posted speed limit is 70 mph.

The bus had been inspected as late as last April and had shown no defects, CHP Border Division Chief Jim Abele said.

A guest manifest from the casino indicated that Vides was “likely” in the casino with the passengers, according to the CHP. The bus arrived at Red Earth Casino sometime between 11 and 11:30 p.m. Oct. 22 and departed at around 4 a.m. the next morning.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash, and announced Tuesday that some tires on the bus were overly worn, putting the vehicle out of compliance with federal regulations. An exact cause of the crash has not yet been determined, and the NTSB’s report is not expected to be completed for several months.

— City News Service

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