Safety record of bus company in deadly crash questioned

SAN DIEGO – The bus company involved in a deadly crash near Yucaipa was under fire Monday for its safety record.

Screen Shot 2013-02-04 at 5.29.59 PMA Scapadas Magicas tour bus returning from a trip to Big Bear crashed on Highway 38 around 6:30 p.m. Sunday, killing at least seven passengers and sending more than 30 of the 43 passengers to various hospitals.

Interbus of Tijuana was in charge of the trip and had commissioned the bus from Scapadas Magicas, a small business in National City.

According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Scapadas has a satisfactory safety rating, but was cited for at least 30 safety violations, including several related to brake issues.

No crashes had been reported in the last two years, but a review of the company’s vehicle maintenance site found Scapadas scored worse than 75% of other U.S. bus companies, the FMCSA reported.

The driver of the bus in Sunday’s crash, as well as passengers, reported that the vehicle was experiencing mechanical problems when the accident occurred, authorities said.Screen Shot 2013-02-04 at 5.40.31 PM

Fox 5 visited the Scapadas office in National City, but found no one there.  There was a note on the door directing deliveries to another office.

Interbus released a statement on its Facebook page expressing deep regret for the accident and said it’s working with authorities as well as the Mexican Consulate to assist victims and families of the crash.

As highway patrol investigators worked to identify the cause of Sunday’s crash, many family members are still searching for victims.

“I’ve been to about eight or nine hospitals. The CHP and no one can give me information,” said one man.

For the few that found family members, they can only hope and pray.

“She has a problem with the brain – high pressure on the brain,” said a woman named Maria. “We have to wait to see how she stabilizes.”