DPS Says Driver and Bus in Fatal Crash Were Both Unfit for Duties

The bus involved in the Interstate 10 crash that killed six people in March should never have been on the road — and neither should the driver, according to a report by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

After the crash, a federal court ordered Tierra Santa, Inc., the Los Angeles bus company involved in the wreck to stop its interstate and international operations. The company had been operating without required licenses when its bus rolled over on I-10 south of Ahwatukee, killing or injuring everyone on board in an early morning crash.

Driver and Bus: Both Unfit for Service

Following an investigation, the DPS Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Bureau said both the driver and bus were unfit for a variety of reasons, including the following:

  • The 66-year-old driver was unable to read and speak English well enough to converse with the general public, making him unfit for duty.
  • There was no prior seven days record of duty status for the driver or co-driver.
  • At least 20 percent of the brakes on the bus were defective, making it unfit for service.

Determining the exact cause of the fatal wreck will be difficult, a DPS spokesperson told the Arizona Republic. "It's going to be tough to say because the bus is in a shambles," DPS spokesperson Robert Bailey said. "It's like an aircraft wreck: You take it piece by piece."

An Awful Sound

Augustine Vavages, who lives near the crash site, heard an awful crunching of metal around 5:30 that morning. "I could hear [the bus] turning over and over, and dust was in the air," she told the newspaper.

The bus came to a stop on its side, after scattering luggage, metal debris and shattered bodies. The roof of the vehicle was crushed and its windows knocked out.

The bus was coming from central Mexico, crossing the border at El Paso, Texas. Two drivers were taking turns; they were supposed to stop in Phoenix to switch behind the wheel.

In the Aftermath of an Accident

If you or a loved one has been hurt in bus accident or other motor vehicle crash due to someone else's negligence or wrongdoing, contact a personal injury attorney who can assess your case and help you use the law to protect yourself and your family.