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Eight killed in tour bus crash: 'It happened so fast,' passenger says

February 4, 2013 |  3:23 am

Authorities believe a tour bus lost control going down a narrow mountain road Sunday night, killing at least eight people on board.

The tour bus appeared to have originated from Tijuana and was headed back there, officials said. Information on the bus indicated it was operated by Scapadas Magicas of National City.

The collision, which involved the bus, a truck and a sedan, occurred about 6:30 p.m. on California 38 on a route leading from the Big Bear area, authorities said.

PHOTOS: Highway 38 tour bus crash

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

California Highway Patrol spokesman Mario Lopez said 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 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 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. "We're expecting more people from the crash," he said Sunday evening.

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.

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--Julie Cart, Jessica Garrison and Phil Willon

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