SAN DIEGO — A bus crash in Pala Mesa Saturday morning left three people dead and 18 others injured, including a 5-year-old boy who was in critical condition Saturday night, authorities said.
According to the California Highway Patrol, three females were killed in the crash. The victims were not immediately identified.
Seventeen of the 18 survivors were taken to four hospitals for treatment, authorities said.
One of the injured, a 5-year-old boy, was taken to Riverside University Health System Medical Center and was in critical condition battling life-threatening injuries Saturday night, the CHP said.
Five of the passengers were taken to Palomar Medical Center Escondido, five were taken to Inland Valley Medical Center and seven were taken to Temecula Valley Hospital, CHP officials told FOX 5. Details regarding the severity of their injuries were not immediately clear.
The bus rolled over several times on southbound I-15 just south of state Route 76 around 10:30 a.m., the North County Fire Protection District said.
Crews from the CHP, Camp Pendleton, CalFire, Pala Mesa, Vista and Oceanside arrived on the scene to aid in helping the injured victims who were ejected in the crash, according to Capt. John Choi of the NCFPD.
Rescue crews found the bus on its roof and in danger of sliding down an embankment, Choi said. Crews had to stabilize the bus before they could rescue anybody trapped inside.
One unidentified person was found dead inside the bus. Another person inside the bus was pulled to safety, Choi said.
The bus, which was owned by Executive Lines Inc., was equipped with seat belts, but it was unclear if any of the passengers had been wearing them, the CHP said.
At the time of the crash, the bus was transporting its Spanish-speaking passengers to the U.S.-Mexico border, Sgt. Curtis Martin with the CHP said. “They basically pick up multiple people from multiple locations and bring them down to the border. They made numerous stops before this point,” he told FOX 5.
The bus driver voluntarily answered first responders’ questions after the crash and was cooperating with authorities, the CHP told FOX 5. He was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash, Martin said.
Though the roads were wet Saturday morning, the extent to which the weather might have played a role in the crash was unclear, Martin said. The bus was expected to undergo a full mechanical inspection as authorities continued their investigation.
Anyone who witnessed the crash or has information related to the incident is encouraged to contact the CHP at 858-637-3800.
Editor’s note: This article initially reported that all 18 survivors were taken to local hospitals for treatment. The CHP clarified on Sunday that 17 of the survivors were transported for treatment and the bus driver was treated at the scene for minor injuries.