A Greyhound bus with 20 people aboard crashed in San Jose Tuesday morning while traveling from downtown Los Angeles to San Francisco, killing two female passengers and injuring 18 others.
California Highway Patrol Sgt. Lisa Brazil said the two women died at the scene, reported shortly before 6:40 a.m. on U.S. Highway 101 at state Route 85, a busy South Bay thoroughfare that was jammed up during the rainy, early-morning commute. In addition, Brazil said that eight other people suffered injuries, though nothing major. Initial reports were that all 18 passengers were injured. The bus driver suffered injuries, as well, she said.
Witnesses driving behind the bus told CHP officers that they saw the back of the bus try to veer into the carpool lane, and the rear end of the bus “fly in the air” while doing so, Brazil said.
She added investigators did not know why the bus flipped over on its side, and disputed reports from a passenger who told a news outlet that the driver may have fallen asleep.
Brazil said that all the passengers interviewed told officers that they were asleep themselves before the crash occurred. According to Greyhound’s bus tracker, the vehicle had left from Los Angeles just before midnight.
Greyhound spokeswoman Lanesha Gipson said she was looking into the matter and didn’t immediately confirm it was a Greyhound bus. However, the Greyhound symbol was seen prominently on the side of the passenger bus, which straddled the concrete barrier and was surrounded by a swarm of emergency vehicles.
Larry Hanley, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents Greyhound bus drivers, told NBC Bay Area he did not have firsthand knowledge of the accident early Tuesday morning.
But Hanley did say that the union has been pushing Congress to act to include bus drivers in the Fair Labor Standards Act. On average, inter-city bus drivers earn about $13 an hour and can work 70 hours a week and they don’t get overtime past 40 hours, the union states. After every 10 hours, they must take a break, however.
Most drivers have multiple jobs and are often fatigued, he said. “There’s a crisis in America,” Hanley said. “The bus industry is forcing drivers to work too many hours to make a living wage.”
Anthony Cordero was driving to his job in Palo Alto with his two children, ages 3 and 4, when he passed by the crash. He heard responders inside the emergency vehicles shouting, “Get out of the way! Move!”
He said he saw the bus “completely smashed” and “literally hanging” over the side of the concrete barrier. He was listening to the radio and knew that there were fatalities. He asked his children to look away.
“I feel really badly for the families involved,” he said. “But I also feel thankful. I was running a little late. If I was running on time, I would have been in that lane.”
There have been other notable bus fatalities in Northern California.
Two years ago, 10 people were killed when a Fed Ex truck hit a bus carrying high school students en route to Humboldt State University.