BLYTHE – Authorities Thursday identified the four people killed in the tour bus crash on Interstate 10 in Blythe early Wednesday.
Jessica Garcia, 30, of Chula Vista; Luz Rivera, 44, of Compton; Angel Hernandez, 49, of Hacienda Heights; and Pablo Ramirez, 67, of Pico Rivera all died at the scene of the crash, which happened about 2:15 a.m. Wednesday.
An eastbound tour bus carrying the victims and 29 other people overturned after veering to the right near a California-Arizona border inspection station to avoid a load of pipes that spilled from a jackknifed big rig heading west.
A California Highway Patrol incident report said the bus — which began its journey in El Paso, with a stop in Phoenix before heading for Los Angeles — skidded across the right lane and right shoulder, through a fence and then 50 feet down a slight embankment, rolling onto its left side.
Two eastbound vehicles also struck the pipes and crashed, but their occupants were not injured, according to the CHP.
CHP Officer Jason Girard said three people were airlifted to hospitals, four were taken by ambulance and 14 by bus to be checked out. Neither the driver of the bus nor the driver of the big rig were hurt.
Girard said officers obtained statements from both drivers, and no arrests had been made.
The Interstate was blocked in both directions and did not fully reopen until 6 p.m. Wednesday.
According to the Press-Enterprise, the registration of the big rig owned by Victor Esteban Galvan expired in January, while Galvan’s other violations included driving with an expired medical certificate and driving eight hours without a break.
The big rig is operated under VG Transport in Rialto.
El Paso-Los Angeles Limousine Express’s 55 vehicles were involved in five crashes, including one fatal, in the last two years. The big rig had not been involved in any crashes in the past two years, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
A hotline was set up for people to call for information on those affected by the crash — (760) 921-2729.
Girard said the CHP’s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team is investigating the bus crash.