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No seat belts on church bus involved in fatal crash

February 21, 2011 |  6:09 pm

The injured victims aboard a church bus involved in a fatal collision near Twin Peaks on Monday were not wearing seat belts, authorities said.

“There were no seat belts on the bus,” said Officer Mario Lopez of the California Highway Patrol.

One person was killed and 23 others injured in the accident that occurred about 11:50 a.m. Monday as the bus was traveling down a steep and slippery Highway 189, Lopez said. The bus collided with another vehicle, went over a small embankment and slammed into a 50-foot cedar, crumpling the cab of the bus.

There were 22 people -- mostly teenagers -- on the bus and two in the other vehicle, Lopez said. The bus was from the Light of Love Mission Church in Pasadena.

The injured were taken to Loma Linda Medical Center and Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. Ten  were listed in critical condition, and the others suffered only minor injuries, Lopez said.
The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

The person who was killed was the bus driver, Won Chae, 61, according to Deacon John Cho of the church. Chae was a onetime tour bus driver who had volunteered to drive the church bus on weekends.

Cho said some of the injured were in surgery and that their injuries included broken ribs and broken legs.

“We’re hoping none are life-threatening,” Cho said. “We’re hoping they all pull through.”

Cho said the Presbyterian church has been in existence about 18 years and has about 1,000 members. He said parents of the youths on the bus had to sign a release before the trip.

“The church is in shock,” Cho said. “Faith is what’s keeping us together.”

The church plans a prayer service at 7 p.m. Monday.


Photos: Bus crashes in mountains near Crestline

Crash victims removed from the scene

1 dead, more than 20 hurt in church bus crash

Teenagers trapped inside bus after it slides down mountainside

-- Phil Willon in Twin Peaks and Victoria Kim in Pasadena