Federal officials have ordered Scapadas Magicas LLC, the operator of the National City-registered tour bus that crashed and fatally injured eight people Sunday on State Route 38 north of Yucaipa, to immediately cease operations.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued an 11-page out-of-service order and declared Scapadas Magicas LLC "an imminent hazard to public safety" in an announcement Friday Feb. 8.
The crash occurred shortly after 6:30 p.m. Feb. 3, when the driver of a 1996 VanHool Bus carrying more than 30 people "experienced a loss of control allowing the front end of the bus to strike the rear of a Saturn sedan traveling within the same lane," California Highway Patrol investigators said in a statement issued earlier this week.
The bus continued out of control as it approached a curve and veered into the opposing lane where it collided with a blue Ford pickup truck pulling a trailer, traveling uphill, east of Mentone and Redlands.
The bus is registered to Scapadas Magicas LLC of National City, CHP Officer Mario Lopez said before sunrise Monday at a road block south of the crash scene on the 38.
The fatally injured were later identified by coroner's investigators as Guadalupe Olivas 61, of San Diego, Elvira Garcia Jimenez, 40, of San Diego, Victor Cabrera Garcia, 13, of San Diego, Aleida Adriana Arce Hernandez, 38, of Tijuana, Rubicelia Escobedo Flores, 34, of Tijuana, Mario Garcia Santoyo, 32, of Tijuana, and Liliana Camerina Sanchez Sauceda 24, of Tijuana, all occupants of the bus, and Fred B. Richardson, 72, of Mentone, who was driving the pickup and died at Loma Linda University Medical Center the morning of Feb. 6.
The CHP and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, in addition to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, also known as FMCSA.
"After the tragic crash earlier this week, FMCSA investigators quickly inspected this carrier's other two buses which had been operated on U.S. roads, and immediately shut them down," FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro said in a statement. "Today, we've officially blocked the company from conducting future operations in the United States."
A post-crash investigation by FMCSA inspectors of Scapadas Magicas' two other motorcoaches operating in the U.S. "found serious mechanical safety violations, and those buses were immediately placed out-of-service," federal officials said.
FMCSA investigators found the company failed to ensure its vehicles were systematically inspected, repaired and maintained, Ferro said. Scapadas Magicas also failed to ensure its drivers were properly qualified and licensed, contrary to information provided by company officials in January 2013.
"Safety is our number one priority, and we will not tolerate unsafe bus companies on our nation’s roads," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in the statement. "We will not allow safety to be compromised."
A copy of the imminent hazard out-of-service order issued to Scapadas Magicas is attached to this report.
Previous reports on Redlands-Loma Linda Patch:
Tour Bus Crash Claims Local Victim: Fred B. Richardson Was Driving Pickup