Lawsuits Filed Over Fatal February Bus Crash

According to a lawsuit filed on behalf of 12 bus crash victims and/or their survivors, on Feb. 3, the day of the fatal accident, the bus driver had complained to his supervisors’ twice about brake trouble. He was ordered to continue driving, and the bus then crashed on a mountain highway near Yucaipa, killing eight people.

About 40 people were on board the bus at the time of the crash; it had travelled from Tijuana, Mexico to Big Bear, California. Passengers heard the driver notifying the bus company on the way to Big Bear and prior to the return trip that the brake system was not operating properly. That evening, as the bus headed downhill on Highway 38, it lost control, hitting the back of a sedan then slamming into an oncoming pickup truck and rolling over. Seven passengers, some of them thrown through windows, were killed. The driver of the pickup truck died several days later in hospital.

Lawsuits filed allege wrongful death and seek monetary damages for 10 injured passengers and two who were killed. In the most recent suits, filed in late May, victims allege that Scapadas Magicas ignored its driver’s warnings about brake problems, showing their shocking negligence. Furthermore, the suits claim that the driver failed to conduct a pre-trip inspection of the bus; if he had, the brake issue might have been discovered before passengers were in danger.

Five days after the crash, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ordered Scapadas Magicas to stop operating in the United States, because its lack of safety compliance presented “an imminent hazard to public safety.”

The company had been cited for numerous brake problems even before the collision; in fact, maintenance violations were found in 21 of the company’s last 25 inspections. Even worse than the violations is the fact that the company falsified documents during a January 2013 compliance check, trying to convince inspectors that their buses were well maintained and their drivers properly trained. As if all that wasn’t bad enough, during a post-crash inspection, serious safety violations were found on two other buses operated by the company. For this reason, the bus company was still banned from US highways as of June 4, according to the Department of Transportation.

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