DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif. (FOX 11 / AP) - "The speed of bus was so significant that the trailer itself entered about 15 feet into the bus," he said at a news conference. "You can see it was a substantial impact."
Passengers told officials that most people were asleep when the crash occurred at 5:17 a.m. Abele said he didn't believe the 1996 bus had seat belts and likely didn't have a black box outfitted in newer vehicles.
The front of the bus had crumpled into the semi-truck's trailer and debris was scattered across the key route through Southern California. Firefighters used ladders to climb into the bus' windows to remove bodies and tow trucks lifted the trailer to make it easier to reach the bus, whose front end was demolished.
Eleven people with minor injuries were sent to Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, spokesperson Lee Rice said. JFK Memorial Medical Center in Indio received five patients, all with minor injuries, chief development officer Linda Evans said.
A phone message left for the company was not immediately returned. A Facebook message from USA Holiday said it did not have much information about the crash.
The CHP says all westbound lanes of the highway were closed and traffic was being diverted.
It comes two years after a FedEx truck veered across an interstate median north of Sacramento and slammed into a bus full of high school students, killing 10 people. In August, a bus in central California hit a highway sign post that tore through the vehicle and left four people dead.