PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – A tour bus collided with a big-rig on Interstate 10 through Desert Hot Springs early Sunday morning, officials said. Thirteen people, including the bus driver, were killed and several others were seriously injured in the crash, according to California Highway Patrol.
The crash was reported about 5:17 a.m. on the westbound I-10 near Indian Canyon Drive and state Route 62, according to California Highway Patrol. The crash resulted in the closure of all westbound lanes of the freeway.
During a 1:45 p.m. news conference, CHP Chief Jim Abele confirmed 13 people had died in the crash and 21 other people were taken to three hospitals. He said the majority of the passengers were Hispanic and possible from the Los Angeles area.
The Desert Sun reported about 30 people were aboard the bus when it crashed.
"The speed of the bus was so significant that when it hit the trailer -- 15 feet of the bus entered the inside of the trailer," Abele said. He added that they were hoping to get a data recorder -- referred to as a "black box" -- to determine some details of the crash.
The owner of USA Holiday tour company may have been driving the bus, but they couldn't confirm it since they hadn't officially identified him, Abele said. [This story originally stated that the Desert Sun newspaper reported the driver had survived the crash.]
Passengers who were taken to the hospital told authorities most people on the bus were asleep when the crash happened, Abele said. Majority of the people who died had been sitting near the front of the bus.
"You never get used to seeing these things," Abele said.
Several media outlets are reporting there have been multiple fatalities in the crash, but the CHP had not confirmed it as of 10 a.m.
Video from the crash site showed emergency crews and crane operators removing the tangled debris.
No other information was immediately available.