Tour bus crash: Death toll rises to 8 after truck driver dies
Officials said the death toll from Sunday's tour bus crash near Yucaipa has risen to eight after the driver of a pickup truck struck by the bus died Wednesday morning.
Fred Bailey Richardson, 72, died at Loma Linda University Medical Center, the San Bernardino County coroner's office announced.
Richardson had been driving a pickup, with a trailer, up California 38 to his century-old stone house in Mentone Sunday evening when the vehicle was struck by the bus. He suffered critical injuries and spent days in Loma Linda's intensive care unit.
Carly Schmitt, 29, a resident who pushed a stroller carrying her year-old daughter, Lily, in front of the Richardson house, said Tuesday that everyone in town has been distraught after learning he was in the crash. Richardson worked on many of their yards and was a close friend to many neighbors.“The night it happened, I was just watching TV, just bawling my eyes out,” Schmitt said. Like other neighbors, she said that Richardson and his family were well-liked.
Richardson, whom Schmitt said was an avid trout angler, spent his life in the tiny mountain community, a small collection of cabins and homes along California 38, less than four miles from the crash site. His wife grows African violets, she said, and the couple have two grown children.
Brenda Knight, Richardson's niece, said Tuesday her family was devastated by the news Richardson was in the crash. She described her uncle as a "good guy" with a "kind spirit" — if you need someone, she said, "you can always call Fred."
“It’s just so difficult for all of us," she said. "I want you to see my uncle for the wonderful person he is.”
The other seven people killed in the crash were passengers on the bus, authorities said.
Three were from San Diego and were identified as Guadalupe Olivas, 61; Elvira Garcia Jimenez, 40; and Victor Cabrera Garcia, 13, the San Bernardino County coroner's office said.
The other four were from Tijuana. They were identified as Aleida Adriana Arce Hernandez, 38; Rubicelia Escobedo Flores, 34; Mario Garcia Santoyo, 32; and Liliana Camerina Sanchez Sauceda, 24.
The tour bus, owned by Scapadas Magicas of National City, left Tijuana early Sunday with 38 passengers, including children, and was returning from the ski resort town of Big Bear Lake when the driver lost control on the sweeping, downhill bends on California 38 near the bottom of the San Bernardino Mountains.
Federal and state investigators were still looking into the cause of the crash.
— Phil Willon and Kate Mather
Photo: Fred Richardson Credit: Family photo