FRESNO, Calif. — Authorities were investigating the cause of a deadly crash Thursday in California's Central Valley that killed six people and seriously injured nine others when a Greyhound bus slammed into an overturned SUV.
The bus, carrying 31 passengers on a route from Los Angeles to Sacramento, struck the SUV in front of it, skidded into a concrete center divider and clipped another vehicle shortly after 2 a.m. a few miles from downtown Fresno, California Highway Patrol chief Jim Abrames said.
The bus went off the right shoulder of the highway and down a 15-foot embankment before hitting a eucalyptus tree and coming to rest on a freeway off-ramp with its front end smashed and tree branches jutting into the vehicle.
Three of the four women who died had been traveling in the dark-blue SUV that had overturned and blocked both lanes, said Abrames, who heads the CHP's Central California division. Twenty-one people were rushed to hospitals for treatment, and nine had moderate to critical injuries.
The bus driver was identified as James Jewett, 57, of Sacramento. He died instantly of massive injuries, said Fresno County Coroner Dr. David Hadden. "The front of the bus was destroyed and the front part of the bus was pushed into his driver's seat," he said.
Jewett had worked for Greyhound since 1978 and was an excellent driver with a clean driving record, company spokesman Timothy Stokes said. State Department of Motor Vehicles records show he received a ticket in 2008 for failing to register a vehicle.