Bus Hits Firetruck on California Interstate

Updated: 03-15-2005 08:24:27 PM

Associated Press

ONTARIO, Calif. (AP) -- A bus heading for a casino smashed into a firetruck during Tuesday morning rush hour on Interstate 10, killing one person and injuring 57, authorities said.

The Upland Fire Department truck was maneuvering toward the center median to assist the California Highway Patrol with an earlier accident when the eastbound bus collided with it about 7:30 a.m., CHP Officer Lee Nuez said.

Bus passenger Kau Leung, 75, of Rosemead died at the scene, according to the San Bernardino County coroner's office.

Fifty-four other people from the bus and three firefighters, including one with major injuries, were taken to area hospitals, Ontario Fire Department Deputy Chief Bob Snow said. At least one of the bus passengers was also in critical condition.

Firefighter Tom Barilla, 40, who was driving the truck, was in critical condition at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, said hospital spokesman Jorge Valencia.

Barilla's brother, Mike, choked back tears at a news conference. ``We love him very much,'' he said.

A triage center was set up on the freeway as paramedics treated the injured. Eastbound traffic backed up for miles as it was limited to one lane and detoured off the freeway.

The cause of the crash was under investigation.

The bus was traveling from downtown Los Angeles to the Fantasy Springs Resort, a casino in the desert city of Indio owned by the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians.

The white tour bus was painted with the Fantasy Springs logo but is operated by H&C Paradise Tours of Los Angeles and is not owned by the casino, said tribe spokeswoman Nancy Conrad.

Ontario is 40 miles east of Los Angeles.
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