Palm Desert Tour Bus Collision With 13 Deaths Update – USA Holiday Bus Driver and Owner, Elias Vides, Had Many Prior Safety Violations, Accidents and Citations

Elias Vides, the well liked owner, operator and driver of the tour bus that crashed into the rear of a big rig truck on Sunday, October 23, 2016, killing 13 people, including himself, and injuring 31, not surprisingly to our team of lawyers had many prior safety violations, traffic tickets and lawsuits filed against him for prior bus versus car accidents alleging deaths and injuries.

According to data obtained from the federal government, the bus drove 68,780 miles in 2015 and the company had been in business for five years.  Statistics show that the more miles and time one drives, clearly the more likelihood of accidents, collisions and traffic violations.

As previously reported in our blogs, the tour bus was traveling back from the Red Earth Casino in Thermal, near Salton Sea, on the I10 Freeway towards the intersection of Vermont Avenue and Olympic Boulevard located in the Koreatown community of Los Angeles, California, when it violently rear ended the big rig truck in front of it.

Thirteen people died and will have California wrongful death claims, including driver Vides (age 59) and 13 passengers.  31 people were injured, including the driver of the big rig truck, identified as Bruce Guilford, age 50, a resident of Covington, Georgia, that was rear ended by the tour bus.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Vides had been sued at least twice for negligence after collisions between his bus and other vehicles.  One of these collisions allegedly resulted in the deaths of three (3) persons in another vehicle.

In addition, Vides’ company, USA Holiday tour bus, has received at least six (6) “unsatisfactory” ratings from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and he and his other driver have been cited in more than one county in California for several traffic moving violations, including for speeding.

There are many theories of liability, including driver fatigue, traveling too fast for conditions (often just called “speeding”), not leaving a safe stopping distance or “space cushion” between the bus and the big rig in front of it, darkness, obstructions in the freeway possibly caused by work being done by Southern California Edison (SCE) with highway vehicle assistance performed by the CHP.

It seems to us that without any doubt based on our 40 years of experience in handling bus, truck and car accidents, one key contributing factor was the absence of seat belts or any seat restraining devices for the passengers on the bus, many of whom reportedly were sleeping at 5:17 am when this powerful collision occurred and were violently thrown about in this collision.

When will our government wise up and require the use of seat belts and/or other seat restraining devices in buses?  They are required in cars and airplanes.  Why not in buses?  If you agree, its time to contact your California state assembly person and state senator, Governor Brown and your United States Congressperson and United States Senator, as well as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) which is investigating the causes of this collision.

While the lack of seat belts did not “cause” this collision, it clearly contributed to and aggravated the injuries suffered and may have caused some of the deaths.  In fact, the fatal injuries suffered by the victims were consistent with injuries caused by striking jagged and blunt objects.

Public officials at the Riverside County coroner’s office have identified the 13 people tragically killed in this crash as the following:

  • Zoila Aguilera 72
  • Concepcion Corvera, 57
  • Milagros Gonzales, 72
  • Gustavo Green, 62
  • Isabel Jimenez Hernandez,66
  • Tony Mai, 50
  • Ana Gomes de Magallon, 71
  • Yolanda Mendoza, 69
  • Dora Galvez de Rodriguez, 69
  • Rosa Ruiz, 53
  • Elvia Sanchez, 52
  • Aracely Tije, 63, and
  • Elias Vides, 59, the driver of the USA Holiday tour bus

Our entire staff offers our most sincere condolences to the families of those killed in this terrible bus accident.

We also offer our best wishes for a full and speedy to recovery to the 31 people injured, some critically, in this bus versus truck collision.

We know the incredible impact this tragedy has taken and will take in the days and years to come on all those affected by this collision.  Our personal injury and wrongful death team of lawyers remain ready to offer free consultations to those injured and the families of those so tragically killed in this crash.  You may contact us at any time via email at info@WalchLaw.com or simply call us at 1.866 INJURY 2 or 1.818.222.3400 (after hours, just press “1”).

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