The families of two people killed when their tour bus crashed Oct. 23 on its way back to Los Angeles from a casino in the California desert are suing the bus operator and the estate of the bus driver, who was among the 13 fatalities.
The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court against bus operator USA Holiday and Teodulo Vides, the driver. The complaint alleges that Mr. Vides was traveling at an unsafe speed and failed to brake, causing the bus to slam at high speed into the rear of a tractor-trailer that had slowed in a construction zone along I-10 West.
The lawsuit also claims that USA Holiday, a one-bus company, did not properly maintain the 1996 MCI bus, which was hauling 44 passengers after a late-night trip to the Red Earth Casino in Thermal, Calif., near the Salton Sea.
Thirty-one other passengers were rushed to area hospitals with injuries ranging from moderate to critical. California Highway Patrol authorities said that the tour bus crashed into the back of the tractor trailer with such force that the crumpled front end of the vehicle became lodged more than 15 feet into the trailer.
The crash, the deadliest bus crash in California in several decades, has put the low-fare casino bus industry under fire from safety critics. A number of deadly crashes involving low-cost buses shuttling passenger to and from casinos have occurred in recent years. Critics say this new niche market within the commercial bus industry is poorly regulated.
According to the National Transportation Board (NTSB), which is investigating the crash, the bus was not in compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) safety codes because two of its eight tires had dangerously worn-out treads.
The lawsuit against USA Holiday and the Vides estate was filed by the children of Gustavo Garcia Green and Tony Mai. The plaintiffs told the Los Angeles Times that they plan to push for better safety within the casino bus industry.