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8 die in bus crash: 'We deeply regret this happened,' company says

February 4, 2013 |  6:26 am

A Tijuana-based tour company whose bus was apparently the one involved in a crash on a narrow mountain road near Yucaipa on Sunday night, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 30 others, has commented on the incident, saying: "We deeply regret this happened."

The statement, written in Spanish, was posted on a Facebook page for InterBus Tours, which also said that the company was "working to support our customers and family who unfortunately had an accident down the mountains of Big Bear."

The statement said InterBus personnel were in contact with crash investigators and representative of the Mexican Consulate. It did not provide details on the number of passengers involved or a potential cause of the crash.

PHOTOS: Highway 38 tour bus crash

The company's Facebook page advertises travel packages from Tijuana to Disneyland, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Universal Studios, Knott's Berry Farm, Las Vegas and area vineyards. On Friday, it advertised two upcoming trips: one to Big Bear on Sunday and another to Knott's on Monday.

Authorities confirmed that the bus departed from Tijuana early Sunday and appeared to be heading back there when it crashed about 6:30 p.m. on California Highway 38. The collision involved the bus, a truck and a sedan, officials said.

Some people were ejected from the bus; others were trapped inside. Because of the severity of the crash, it was difficult for rescue workers to immediately identify exactly how many people were killed.

California Highway Patrol spokesman Mario Lopez said late Sunday that all of the known fatalities appeared to come from the bus, which was a charter carrying 38 passengers, including children. The sedan was carrying three people, and the truck had one occupant, officials said.

Caltrans spokeswoman Michelle Profant said the bus lost control while going down the mountain and rolled over the truck at least once, crushing it.

"It happened so fast, I don't know how it all happened," one bus passenger told the San Bernardino Sun. "This was supposed to be a good day out with my companions and then this happened."

Firefighters set up a triage area on the ground next to where the big white bus had come to rest, as rescuers from at least eight agencies worked to stabilize and transport the wounded.

It took firefighters more than two hours to extricate all the injured. In all, 27 people were taken to area hospitals, at least six of them in critical condition. Some of the injured were children. Hours after the crash, backpacks and other personal effects, as well as materials from the truck such as plastic pipes and sprinkler heads, were scattered on the highway.

"Investigation into the cause hasn't even begun because patient treatment and transport takes priority," said Eric Sherwin, a spokesman for the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

Herbert Atienza, a spokesman for Loma Linda University Medical Center, said the hospital received four crash victims -- two adults and two children. One adult and one child were in critical condition, he said.

Further information about the victims was not immediately available.

The highway will be closed until Monday evening as the investigation continues, a California Department of Transportation spokeswoman said.


-- Kate Mather, Julie Cart, Jessica Garrison and Phil Willon