Investigative

I-Team investigates 2016 deadly tour bus crash

Details about the bus driver involved in the crash

Watch: I-Team investigates 2016 deadly t

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - The News Channel 3 I-Team is taking a look back at a deadly tour bus crash in Palm Springs that happened one year ago. 

13 people were killed and 31 others injured in the crash involving a tour bus on its way back from a casino in Thermal to Los Angeles. The bus hit a tractor-trailer around 5:17 a.m. on Sunday, October 23, 2016.

The driver of the tour bus, Elias Vides, was amongst those 13 killed.

It's a call Vides' daughter, Julie Vides, hoped she'd never receive.

"There's this uncertainty. You're hoping it's not the worst-case scenario. You're being told it's the worst-case scenario. So, it was definitely really hard. and it still is," Julie said.

 It's been a tough twelve months for Julie vides.

"Emotionally, there's just that big void. Nothing has been the same since. You constantly look at your phone and you want to make a call, and there's nobody to call," Julie said. 

Julie says she remembers her father being a responsible, working man, putting family and safety above all else. 

"He's my greatest example of being hardworking, of being honorable, of being just and fair, and doing what's right," Julie said. "There was no excuses. There was no calling in sick and I think he knew that he had to set that example." 

She says her father, over time, adopted a second family on the road, spending more than 30 years behind the wheel of a tour bus. Taking passengers from California to places all over, including Canada, New York, and most recently regional casinos, picking them up from Los Angeles' Koreatown neighborhood. 

"He had these passengers that were very loyal to him because they trusted him. They had traveled with him for so long, it was almost like jumping in the car with your brother, or your sister, or your family member," Julie said. 

A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) revealed slowed traffic had formed along the freeway, with Southern California Edison (SCE) doing utility work several minutes before the crash. 

READ: NTSB preliminary report on tour bus crash

Last week, the Riverside County District Attorney's Office and California Highway Patrol (CHP) arrested and charged Bruce Guilford, the truck driver, with multiple counts of vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving. 

READ: Truck driver arrested & charged in connection with deadly Palm Springs tour bus crash

CHP officers allege Guilford fell asleep at the wheel and falsified driver logs prior to the crash.

However, CHP officers said in a declaration Guilford was, "not the party determined to be most at fault for this collision."

Many questions still remain as to what happened that day. 

"We can't say, definitively, what the cause of the accident was," Chief Jim Abele with the California Highway Patrol said in a news conference days after the crash. 

Vides' attorney said since the crash, her family has been in multiple lawsuits both as plaintiffs and defendants.

NTSB investigators are expected to reveal the probable cause of the crash on Tuesday, October 31. 


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