Crime - Sacto 911

Bus crash on Interstate 5 north of Shasta Lake kills one, injures dozens

Emergency personnel on Sunday check a tour bus that crashed earlier in the day, then overturned off Interstate 5 near Pollard Flat in Shasta County. The crash killed one person and sent dozens to hospitals.
Emergency personnel on Sunday check a tour bus that crashed earlier in the day, then overturned off Interstate 5 near Pollard Flat in Shasta County. The crash killed one person and sent dozens to hospitals. The Associated Press

One person was killed and at least 30 people were taken to hospitals after a tour bus, bound from Los Angeles to Washington state, drifted off Interstate 5 and crashed onto its roof north of Shasta Lake on Sunday morning.

A 33-year-old passenger from the Fresno County community of Parlier died in the crash, according to the California Highway Patrol. His name had not been released last Sunday.

Three people were listed in critical condition as a result of the 7:40 a.m. crash north of Pollard Flat, in an unincorporated area of Shasta County.

Reports of the number of injuries varied, with hospitals in the region accounting for 32 patient visits and the CHP saying 30 were taken to hospitals in Redding and Mount Shasta.

A report Sunday night from the CHP said the 1996 Belgium-designed Van Hool bus was being driven by Jose Victor Garcilazo, 67, of Los Angeles. Officials said the Yellow Arrow Lines bus drifted off the right shoulder, went down an embankment and overturned before coming to rest on its roof on a frontage road off the interstate. CHP listed conditions as “overcast and dry.”

In its accident report, CHP said the crash occurred “for unknown reasons that are still (being) investigated.”

However, the CHP report also added that “records indicate” that the same bus crashed into a Denny’s restaurant in Red Bluff earlier Sunday morning. Red Bluff police investigated that incident in which no injuries were reported.

The CHP is looking into the possibility of driver fatigue being a cause for the second, far more serious crash.

According to official reports, 17 passengers were taken by ambulances to Mercy Medical Center in Redding, and an 18th was airlifted there by helicopter from the facility’s sister hospital, Mercy Medical Center in Mount Shasta. Ten patients were taken to Mercy-Mount Shasta and four others to Shasta Regional Medical Center, officials said.

Joyce Zwanziger, a spokeswoman for Mercy-Mount Shasta, said the airlifted patient was in critical condition with head injuries. One other patient at the Mount Shasta hospital was listed in critical but stable condition. Seven others were being evaluated at the hospital’s emergency room and three others were released, Zwanziger said.

The Mount Shasta hospital opened its instant command center at 8:20 a.m. and summoned additional staff, including three emergency-room doctors. “We drill for this kind of incident,” Zwanziger said.

Heather Nichols, a spokeswoman for Mercy Medical Center in Redding, said the majority of people brought there were discharged with minor injuries. However, one patient at the hospital was listed in critical condition and three were in serious condition, she said.

Nichols said the passengers who weren’t hospitalized were getting food and temporary shelter on Sunday at the facility’s Mercy Hospitality House.

“We’re just giving them meal tickets” to the hospital cafeteria “and keeping them safe and comfortable,” Nichols said.

Red Cross spokeswoman Mary Stephenson said Red Cross volunteers were at the scene, addressing needs of injured or stranded passengers.

Karen Hoyt, a spokeswoman for Shasta Regional Media Center, said four bus passengers brought there were treated and released Sunday afternoon.

Call The Bee’s Peter Hecht, (916) 326-5539.

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