SANTEE, Calif. – The San Diego Christian College basketball team escaped injury early Sunday, but the driver of a car was killed as his vehicle rear-ended the team’s charter bus and caught fire east of Los Angeles.
The team was returning to Santee after playing a game against Cal State Bakersfield Saturday when a 2014 Volkswagen Jetta crashed into the rear-end of their charter bus on southbound state Route 71 in Chino Hills, in western San Bernardino County. The crash happened around 1:30 a.m.
“Our immediate thoughts let’s get these kids out to safety,” said head basketball coach Edgar Mendez. “We thank God that the bus driver was able to pull over safely.”
CHP officers said the Jetta had been going about 50 miles per hour and after it crashed bystanders attempted to save the driver.
“There were two young men, good Samaritans who ran out of their vehicle and went straight out to him and pulled him out,” Mendez said.
The driver of the car was identified as a 26-year-old Xujun Lu of Chino Hills. He did not survive the crash, California Highway Patrol reported.
Video showed the Jetta wedged under the left rear side of the bus, both reduced to their charred metal frames.
CHP officers said the 16 teammates of the San Diego Christian College basketball team, their trainer, coaches and the bus driver evacuated and no one was hurt.
“[Our team’s] first thoughts were for that other person. It made me proud to coach such young men that worry about other people more than they do about themselves,” Mendez said. “Our thoughts and prayer do go out to that family.”
FOX 5 was told the players will be returning to school Monday to prepare for their game against San Diego State on Wednesday. Many of them without some of their books or cell phones because they just had no time to grab them when the bus caught fire.