The USA Holiday bus was on a return trip back to Los Angeles after a trip to the Red Earth Casino near Salton Sea. The bus carried over three dozen people as it traveled west on Interstate 10 at around 5:17 a.m. local time when the accident occurred.
Officials say the bus crashed into the rear of the 18-wheeler, demolishing the entire front end of the bus. The cause of the crash is under investigation, but the Los Angeles Times reports that traffic was moving slower than usual at the time of the wreck.
Investigators believe the bus traveled at a significantly higher speed than the semi-truck. The trailer of the semi-truck ended up around 15 feet inside the bus.
The driver of the bus, Teodulo Elias Vidas, died in the crash. Thirteen passengers on board the bus also died in the wreck, and 31 others received injuries. According to the Los Angeles Times, most of the deceased sat in the front third of the bus, which received the most amount of damage in the collision. In addition, it appeared many of the occupants did not wear seatbelts at the time of the crash.
Many of the injured passengers received severe facial injuries requiring plastic surgery. Several patients admitted to Desert Regional Medical Center remain in the intensive care unit. Patients at the medical center ranged in age from 20s to 70s, according to the Los Angeles Times. Some patients received only minor injuries in the crash.
The investigation is in its preliminary stages, according to the Los Angeles Times. It is unclear if alcohol, drugs, or a medical condition played a factor in the fatal accident.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,903 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks in 2014. Here is additional information on trucking accidents.