French tourists killed in California bus rollover accident

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Multiple passengers were injured and five were killed when their tour bus crashed and rolled on the Highway 101 overpass near Soledad, Monterey County, California. There were 34 French tourists, an American driver and a French Canadian tour guide on board the bus when it overturned.

On Tuesday afternoon about 3:30 P.M., at the Camphora Gloria Road overpass, the bus rolled, and three or four passengers flew from the bus, over the freeway guardrail to the railway tracks.

Wednesday morning, Maia Carroll, communications coordinator for Monterey County, confirmed that five people had died due to the accident.

First reports indicated it was a multiple vehicle accident, however the reason that the bus went out of control is still under investigation. Three people were declared dead at the scene of the accident and two others died in hospital.

"At this time, it appears to just be a solo-vehicle incident, meaning just the tour bus itself was involved," said California Highway Patrol (CHP) spokesman Brian Wiest, "It's a tragedy. It's certainly one of worst I've seen in a long time."

The three patients who were the first to arrive at the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital were all in a critical condition. Some of the injured were taken to the Lee Memorial Hospital in King City, other critically injured were being sent to the Bay area. So far eight people have been reported in critical condition. At least fifteen ambulances, and seven helicopter ambulances were dispatched to the scene.

A thirteen year old is being treated in Fresno Community Regional Medical Center. Patients are being treated at over eight hospitals in the area.

The CHP closed all lanes of the highway in both directions and reported multiple fatalities.

The tour bus was operated by Orion Pacific Charter Bus Co. and was traveling from San Francisco to Santa Maria. The French tourists involved in the accident arrived on April the 19th to tour California. They were returning to Los Angeles from where they were to continue to France when the accident happened.

The tour bus was bought this year and was made for 56 passengers in total.

This accident occurred just four days after twenty were killed and 21 injured when a tourist bus collided with a truck in south west China on Saturday.