Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I-40 Bus Accident near Barstow Kills Woman

Faith Creer, 31 of Los Angeles died in a recent charter bus accident reported by The Los Angeles Times. The bus was in the left lane headed eastbound on Interstate 40 when it drifted onto the dirt median. The bus then crashed as the driver tried to correct its direction and fell on its side. Creer died when she was thrown out by the impact of the bus crash that also injured 21 others, eight of them seriously.

I’m deeply saddened by the loss of life and the scale of injuries caused by this bus wreck. It is always scary to imagine that as a passenger in a vehicle you can have your whole life suddenly upturned or even destroyed. And it is interesting to note here that CHP Officer Taj Johnson is quoted as saying they don’t know why the driver of the bus drifted across the lanes and also that the driver himself didn’t know how it drifted.

Operating buses and transporting the public comes with a huge responsibility for charter bus companies. Some of the recurring causes for common carrier accidents are driver negligence, inadequate security, dangerous roadways, weather conditions, negligence, defective products and improper maintenance, among others. From this report it appears that this is a case of driver error. Personally, from the number of similar cases I’ve handled it is immensely frustrating to see, time and again, bus crashes caused by improperly trained or monitored bus drivers or by drivers exhausted from excessive workloads.

Any transportation company – public or private owes its every passenger a duty of utmost care. This is a standard that is higher than the negligence duty also owed by a transportation company. If you are a victim of a bus accident, you’d be well served to consult with an attorney. The bus company must prove they did all they could to avoid the accident and this gives you a very good chance of winning damages.

Neighborhood grieves for L.A. woman who died in tour bus crash

Faith Creer, 31, was remembered as a 'wonderful mother' and a generous friend. She was killed and 21 others injured Saturday when the vehicle veered off Interstate 40 and overturned.

By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

May 19, 2008

The Los Angeles woman who died Saturday in a tour bus crash wasremembered by neighbors as a devoted mom and generous friend.

Faith Creer "was a good mother and a good worker," said neighbor Thomasina Curry. "She and her husband are good people."

Creer, 31, died when the bus bound for Laughlin, Nev., skidded out of control and slid 100 feet on its side off Interstate 40 about 40 miles east of Barstow.

The one-vehicle crash is under investigation by the California Highway Patrol, which has moved the bus to a storage area, said CHP spokesman Taj Johnson.

The accident injured 21 people, including Creer's husband, Ray.

Four were flown to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where a spokeswoman said their injuries are not life threatening. Rescue workers took the rest of the passengers to other medical facilities. One patient was listed in critical condition Saturday night, with no update available Sunday. Some of the victims may have lost limbs, Johnson said.

Ray Creer's injuries did not require hospitalization, so he returned quickly to the family's home in a tight-knit South L.A. neighborhood that was collectively grieving Sunday.

Family members declined to make a public statement, but neighbors praised the couple as role models for the three children the Creers were raising.

Neighbor and friend Angel Faggins recalled that when her husband was deployed to Iraq, Faith Creer would always include Faggins and her children in barbecues at the Creer house.

"She was a wonderful mother, a dear friend, and she would have done anything for anybody," Faggins said.

Culver City-Laughlin tour bus crashes

1 dies, 21 hurt as Culver City-Laughlin tour bus crashes
The charter bus operated by Royal American veered from the highway into a dirt median, overturned and skidded 100 feet, officials say. A Los Angeles woman was ejected and died at the scene.

Firefighters stand beside a bus that crashed on Interstate 40 outside of Barstow, Ca., killing a female passenger. (Courtesy of the San Bernadino County Fire Department / May 17, 2008)

By Deborah Schoch Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 18, 2008

Digg Facebook Fark Google Newsvine Reddit Yahoo Print Reprints Post comment Text size: One woman died and 21 others were injured when a tour bus en route from Culver City to Laughlin, Nev., overturned Saturday on an isolated stretch of Interstate 40 in the Mojave Desert, officials said.

Six helicopters and at least nine emergency vehicles, some recruited from nearby military bases, shuttled injured passengers to area hospitals.

Eight of the victims were severely hurt and 13 others suffered minor to moderate injuries. Most or all were from West Los Angeles, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said.

Faith Creer, 31, of Los Angeles, died at the scene when she was ejected from the bus after it veered from the highway onto the dirt median, toppled on its side and skidded 100 feet, said CHP Officer Taj Johnson.

Fatal bus crash Photo Some passengers escaped by crawling through the frame of the shattered front windshield, aided by other passengers and drivers who pulled over at the scene, where temperatures soared to 101 degrees.

The identities of the others on the bus were not released, but San Bernardino County Fire Department spokeswoman Tracey Martinez said they boarded the charter at Fox Hills Mall in Culver City. The bus was operated by Royal American Tours & Charter of Glendale, she said. Company officials could not be reached for comment.

Creer's mother said her daughter was on a casino trip, and another relative said she was traveling with her husband.

The crash occurred shortly before 11 a.m. on the eastbound lanes of I-40 about 40 miles east of Barstow and 132 miles west of Laughlin.

The bus was traveling in the left lane about 70 mph when it drifted about 40 feet onto the dirt median, Johnson said. The speed limit is 70 mph on the stretch of highway.

"We don't know why he allowed it to drift," Johnson said. "The driver himself didn't know why it drifted."

As the driver tried steering back onto the pavement, the bus fishtailed, overturned and skidded on its side, Johnson said.

"It's pretty torn up," Martinez said. "It was laying on the driver's side. The front windshield was out."

Six passengers were admitted to Loma Linda University Medical Center, including four who were airlifted there, a hospital official said. One passenger was unharmed, officials said.

About 20 relatives and friends of the victims waited inside the hospital and near the emergency room Saturday evening. Some were crying. Others tried to comfort one another. Most said they were too anxious and emotional to talk.

Two more victims were at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, one in critical condition, the other stable. Three were at St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley.

Three other passengers were treated for minor injuries at Colorado River Medical Center in Needles, Calif.

Fort Irwin and the Marine Corps Logistics Base near Barstow sent rescue vehicles.

The eastbound lanes of I-40 were closed and traffic was diverted to side roads, Martinez said. The CHP is investigating the cause of the accident.

No other vehicles were involved.

Royal American Tours, founded in 2002 by Madanyan Enterprises Inc., transports passengers for tour operators, employers, casino trips, senior centers and other groups, according to the company website.

In December 2005, a Royal American bus filled with passengers burst into flames on Interstate 10 on its way to a casino in Indio, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise. The bus was destroyed, but no passengers were injured, the newspaper reported.

In the last five years, at least three tour buses owned by other companies have been involved in accidents in the desert, according to news reports.

At least one man died and more than 50 people were injured in March 2005 when a tour bus bound for an Indio casino collided with a fire engine on I-10.

Nineteen people were hurt in September 2004 when a Las Vegas-bound tour bus overturned in a thunderstorm on Interstate 15.

About 100 people were injured in March 2003 when a tour bus bound from Las Vegas to Los Angeles crashed into another bus in a construction zone along I-15.

Times staff writers Phil Willon, Jean-Paul Renaud and James S. Kim contributed to this report.