Sadly, the crash in Merced County is only one of several major commercial bus accidents this year that resulted in fatalities and serious injuries.
San Jose, TX – In January, a Greyhound bus driven by 58-year-old Gary Bonslater and carrying 20 passengers, was involved in an accident near San Jose that killed two people who were ejected from the bus and left 18 others with injuries.
The accident occurred early in the morning on the northbound 101 Freeway near the State Route 85 interchange.
The Greyhound bus was about to merge onto the State Route 85 connector when it smashed into barrels at the bottom of the ramp, rolled over onto its side and skidded to a stop when it hit a concrete median wall.
Bonslater told authorities that he was fatigued, but insisted he did not fall asleep behind the wheel.
The bus, which originated in downtown Los Angeles, and made stops in Avenal, Gilroy, San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland, was on its way to San Jose when the accident occurred.
Laplace, LA – On August 28, a charter bus that was carrying a group of recovery workers on their way to Baton Rouge crashed on Interstate 10, killing two people and injuring another 41, including 24 passengers on the bus.
The accident occurred at about 6:40 a.m. when the driver, 37-year-old Denis Yasmir Amaya Rodriguez, a Honduran immigrant who is not in the U.S. legally, lost control and slammed into a fire engine that was blocking the left lane of the highway in response to an earlier accident.
The bus then swerved across several lanes, struck a Camry, and hit and killed St. John District Fire Chief, Spencer Chauvin, before it careened over the side of a guardrail into a body of water.
Rodriguez, who was charged with two counts of negligent homicide and one count of reckless driving, as well as driving without a license, suffered only minor injuries.
“It is a sad day in St. John the Baptist Parish, as we lost one of the bravest and most dedicated firefighters that I know,” said Parish President Natalie Robottom. “This was a horrific accident and one that is still very active.”
The Department of Homeland Security is now conducting background checks on the hired workers who were passengers in the bus, as it was discovered that they were also not in the U.S. legally.
AM Party Bus and Kristina’s Transportation LLC, both operating out of Jefferson Parish in New Orleans, are listed as the bus owners, and police are investigating whether the carriers knew that Rodriguez was undocumented.