Horrific California Bus Crash Kills At Least Five

| by Zara Zhi
Bus crashBus crash

At least five people died and more than two dozen are injured following a horrific bus crash in Northern California on Aug. 2.

The California highway patrol says the charter bus was pierced when it swerved into a support pole, trapping some of the wounded in their seats for hours. The event occurred around 3:35 a.m. PST in Merced.

The bus originated in Mexico and was traveling to Washington state, making several stops along the way including one in Los Angeles. It is registered to Autobuses Coordinados, according to NBC News.

Although this is the first reported crash for the company, federal inspectors cited 23 vehicle maintenance violations since 2014 -- three of those were brake issues, reports KCRA.

There were at least 30 people, all of Mexican descent, on board the bus and only four escaped unscathed, Highway Patrol spokesman Moises Onsurez said.

Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke told The Associated Press that several of those who were injured lost limbs, and he said rescuers brought out "bags of body parts" from survivors.

Bus driver Mario David Vasquez, 57, was among those hurt and sustained “major injuries,” said Onsurez at a news conference.

Vasquez’s relatives told NBC Los Angeles that the bus driver was upset over the recent death of his wife and was having trouble sleeping.

Highway Patrol officials say no skid marks were present at the scene, signifying that the driver crashed into the pole at full speed.  

The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team to investigate the crash.

Jennifer Rivera, 12, was traveling from Sonora, Mexico, to Quincy, Washington with her two uncles when the bus crashed.

"I woke up and I was lying on the floor and I think (the bus) crashed into a post," Jennifer Rivera said. "The bus split open and that's how I got out. My arm was scratched and it hurt a lot."

Rivera said she was going to live with her aunt in Washington in order to study in the U.S. She and her family are currently waiting to hear back about her uncles.

Sources: NBC News, KCRA / Photo credit: Stephen Weeke/NBC News

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