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Tour bus crash: Death toll revised down to seven

February 4, 2013 |  4:25 pm

California Highway Patrol officials revised the death toll in Saturday night's fatal tour bus crash down to seven, from the eight they originally believed had been killed.

Authorities revised the number after combing through the crash scene Monday and using a 60-ton crane to pluck the stricken bus from where it came to rest at the side of a mountain road near Yucaipa.

First responders on the scene Sunday initially discovered six dead and believed two more bodies were still in the bus. But when authorities were able to search it Monday afternoon, they found only one body, resulting in the revised death toll.

PHOTOS: Tour bus crash

Dozens more were injured in the crash, including at least two who remain in critical condition at Loma Linda University Medical Center.

Authorities said they believe faulty brakes may have led to the fatal crash.

About 6:30 p.m. Sunday, the bus was carrying dozens of passengers on a narrow mountain road. The bus had departed from Tijuana early Sunday and appeared to be heading back there from Big Bear when it hit a Saturn sedan, veered left into oncoming traffic and struck a landscaper’s truck.

The bus rolled one or more times and came to rest facing downhill atop a 10-foot elderberry bush; the bus' front end buckled by a large boulder. During the crash, many of the seats burst and the packing material went flying.

"It is a gruesome and horrible scene," said Leon Lopez, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol. "It's one of the most horrific scenes I've ever seen in 10 years with the department."

The bus and the company that owns it have been cited repeatedly in recent months for poor maintenance, according to federal transportation records.


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-- Julie Cart and Phil Willon in Yucaipa