The Los Angeles Times is reporting that an area bus driver has been charged in connection with a Merced County crash that took the lives of four people earlier this month.
Mario David Vasquez, a 58-year-old bus driver with three decades of bus driving experience, has been charged with four counts of vehicular manslaughter and multiple vehicle code violations for his role in a crash in the early hours of the morning of August 2. Vasquez was driving a bus on Highway 99 near the City of Livingston when he struck a highway post. That post split the bus right down the middle, literally slicing through the vehicle. Four passengers died as a result, and several people were critically injured and had to have limbs amputated.
The bus had started out its journey in Mexico and was stopped in Los Angeles the night before the accident, according to Officer Moises Onsurez of the California Highway Patrol. The vehicle had stopped in Livingston the morning of the crash and was headed to Pasco, Washington, when it struck the pole.
While the bus driver was not using his cellphone at the time of the accident, investigators found that he had used it several times while driving the 49-passenger bus, including making a call just minutes before the deadly collision.
Investigators believe that fatigue was the primary factor in the crash. Vasquez’s log book – a record commercial drivers use to list activities and demonstrate compliance with driving and rest hour laws – shows that he slept six and a half hours the previous day. However, his cellphone records contradicted the log entry he made, indicating he had slept less than that. Surviving passengers told the police the bus driver looked drowsy or very tired, and multiple witnesses on Highway 99 also reported that the bus was weaving just before it hit the pole.
The vehicle code charges stem from Vasquez’s falsification of the log book, his failure to keep records that were accurate, and his violation of laws relating to how long commercial drivers can drive at a time.
Autobuses Coordinados USA, with offices in East Los Angeles, is the owner of the bus involved in the crash. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s records, this particular bus had been cited for seven violations over the past two years. A 2016 roadside inspection in California showed the bus had a defective or absent brake warning device, aisle seats that were prohibited, and other maintenance issues. The carrier was also cited in 2015 for having a driver with a suspended license. So far, they have not responded to any media requests for a statement about the deadly accident.
A large vehicle like a bus can cause a truly serious accident with terrible consequences, especially when the driver in question is distracted or overworked. If you have been injured in a bus accident, speak to an experienced attorney, like a bus accident lawyer Denver CO trusts, about your case and all of your rights today.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Offices of Richard Banta, P.C. for their insight into auto accident cases.