Federal investigators released a preliminary report on the casino bus crash near Palm Springs, Calif., in October that killed 13 people and injured 31.
The National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) Jan. 3 report does not include a probable cause, but drugs, alcohol, and fatigue are some of the issues that remain under consideration, the Press Enterprise reported, citing NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss. It typically takes the agency about a year to close a crash investigation and issue a final report.
“All aspects of the crash remain under investigation as the NTSB determines the probable cause, and continues to examine safety issues related to the crash,” the report states.
The crash is one of the deadliest commercial bus crashes in California history and has drawn closer regulatory scrutiny to buses that offer cheap seats to casino goers. Such bus operators have proliferated in recent years.
On Oct. 23, a 47-passenger 1996 MCI motor coach operated by USA Holiday of Alhambra, Calif., was traveling westbound on Interstate 10 near Palm Springs. The bus was en route to Los Angeles from the Red Earth Casino near the Salton Sea, where it transported 42 passengers on an overnight gambling excursion.
At about 5:17 a.m., the bus collided with the rear of a tractor trailer that had slowed with other traffic as workers from Southern California Edison Company performed electrical work – a process that involved them alternating traffic breaks for traffic in both directions.
During the on-scene investigation, NTSB officials conducted 3D laser scans of the truck, the semi-trailer, the passenger bus, and accident scene, interviewed passengers, and inspected records maintained by the commercial vehicles involved in the crash.
The California Highway Patrol, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are also investigating the crash alongside the NTSB.