13 California Gamblers Killed in a Casino Tour Bus Accident

In the early morning of October 23, a gambling tour bus in California crashed into an 18-wheeler heading the same direction, killing 13 people and leaving 31 others injured. It is one of the deadliest bus crashes in California history.

Officials are still piecing together the facts. No one knows if the bus driver was asleep at the wheel, impaired by substances, or simply failed to notice a traffic stoppage. NTSB and California officials continue to investigate the scene.

Senior Citizens Tour Bus

The tour bus, which was heading to the Red Earth Casino in Salton City, appears to have carried a seniors tour group. Every one of the thirteen killed were over the age of 50.

The bus was operated by USA Holiday, which advertised $20 round-trip ticket on Facebook and Instagram. The ticket covered travel and promised 4 and 1/2 hours of gambling. USA Holiday is described as a small tour bus company which has only one bus and one driver, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The driver of the bus and the owner of the company was 59-year old Teodulo Vides, who was one of those killed in the crashed. The California Highway Patrol is trying to determine whether Mr. Vides was using drugs or alcohol prior to the wreck. The CHP is also trying to determine whether he was inside the casino before the ill-fated return trip.

Crashed into Truck at 65 MPH

The 18-wheeler is estimated to have been driving through a construction zone at 5 miles per hour. Witnesses estimated that the tour bus hit the 18-wheeler from the rear at 65 miles per hour. Investigators looking at the stretch of road leading to the crash say there is no sign that the bus driver ever hit the breaks.

Veteran California Highway Patrol Border Division Chief Jim Abele said the scene of devastation had an impact on him, as it likely did everyone at the scene of the accident. Division Chief Abele said, “In almost 35 years, I’ve never been to a crash where there’s been 13 confirmed [fatalities]. It’s tough. You never get used to this.

Ana Car’s Experience

One of the passengers recalled an even more terrifying experience. Ana Car woke from a busrise nap to screams of terror and agony. Mrs. Car, who suffered bumps and bruises, sobbed as she recalled her first knowledge of the wreak. She woke “among dead and injured passengers in a dark bus filled with screams of terror and agony”, to realize that something horrific had occurred while she slept.

Car said, “I can’t believe how many died. It was so horrible. These images are going to stay in my head for life.

2007 Fatal Accident for Teodulo Vides

This is not the first fatal accident for USA Holiday. In 2007, the tour bus company was sued for an incident in which 3 people were killed. Teodulo Vides was the driver in that fatal incident, too. It is uncertain whether the fatalities in the 2007 incident involved passengers on the USA Holiday bus, passengers in other vehicles, or bystanders.

State and federal records show that Teodulo Vides was licensed to drive his tour bus. He had a clean record these past few years, while the bus had passed inspection each year. The NTSB believes Mr. Vides was well-within the federal limits on driver work hours, given the known timeline at the moment.

USA Holiday’s home office did not return calls when the Chicago Tribune tried to contact it. Given that the owner was the main employee and he is now dead, it is possible there is no leadership at the company at present. Family members presumably would be dealing with funeral plans, like 12 other families would be.

List of the Deceased

According to the Los Angeles Times, the other twelve deceased are Elvia Sanchez, 52; Rosa Ruiz, 53; Conception Corvera, 57; Gustavo Green, 62; Aracely Tije, 63; Isabel Jimenez Hernandez, 66; Yolanda Mendoza, 69; Dora Galvez de Rodriguez, 69; Ana Gomes de Magallon, 71; Zoila Aguilera, 72; and Milagros Gonzales, 72.

Those are the 12 tragedies Ana Car saw happen as she stood by the side of the road in the minutes after the crash. She described the aftermath of the wreck, as emergency personnel worked to save the injured. She said, “I couldn’t stand when they got me out. I sat on the side of the road, watching them pull so many people out. I saw so much blood and two dead bodies. I was so scared.

Investigating the Causes

NTSB officials said they are going to try to determine whether Mr. Vides was asleep when the accident happened, but they say they have little information at the moment. Jim Abele indicated that officials might never have the full answers. He said, “Essentially, we just don’t have all the pieces to the puzzle. We may not be able to determine exactly why the accident occurred because the driver has been killed.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on BestOnlineCasinos.com, USPokerSites.com, and LegalUSPokerSites.com

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